Look, everybody knows that Thanksgiving is one of the best holidays on the calendar. This, unfortunately, is not up for debate.
In most households, Thanksgiving exists as a reason to wake up early, watch giant balloons, cute dogs, and an all-day binge of the CTE machine, all while pigging out on a smorgasbord of meats, cheeses, and, of course, pie. But beyond all this, Thanksgiving is excellent for creating week-long leftovers — the key to happiness for any adult, I’m sure of it.
On the other hand, it’s important to regroup and refocus on Black Friday. Whether that means going back to work, waking up at 8:30 AM on the West Coast to prepare these grades, or hitting the gym for a crucial mid-season test, it’s important not to get sloppy in the hours following the holiday feast.
For the Brooklyn Nets, that test came in the form of the Minnesota Timberwolves, a franchise that’s added Dario Saric and Robert Covington since the last time these teams met. Of course, that was also the night-that-will-not-named — and the Nets have yet to truly recover and play with consistency once again. There are certainly plenty of reasons to be thankful in Brooklyn: Rodions Kurucs, Spencer Dinwiddie, Caris LeVert (and his lack of a career-altering injury), among others — but just as many questions remain as well.
Early on, it seemed like many of those would be answered, just in a negative way. But that tryptophan-heavy hangover was very real in the Barclays Center as Taj Gibson went to town on Jared Dudley and the Nets remained in the single-digit tally until the six-minute mark. This time around, at the very least, they’d have an actual center to guard Karl-Anthony Towns and that, my friends, is a little victory.
The re-arrival of Allen Crabbe was immediate, keying a 10-0 run to scoot the Nets ahead for their first fleeting lead of the game. Alongside the solid second unit efforts of Spencer Dinwiddie, Shabazz Napier, DeMarre Carroll, and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, the Nets actually headed into the quarter break with a four-point edge.
While Sarah Kustok was being gifted personalized Prince-adorned threads, the Nets were hanging tough against Minnesota, mostly thanks to their 8-for-20 start from behind the arc. At halftime, the only Net to play and not score was Ed Davis, with nine others pitching in along the way.
With almost everybody struggling to catch fire, it was up to Joe Harris to help the Nets keep pace. But despite his best efforts, Brooklyn fell behind by double-digits as Towns feasted on a foul-riddled frontcourt. Even Kenneth Faried got his chance to shine in another infamously poor third quarter — but it would hardly change the Nets’ fate.
Towns scored 17 points in the frame, the Nets went ice cold and, well, you know how this story goes. Blah, blah, blah, third quarter, turnovers, defense — it’s like living in some version of Groundhog Day, except just for those cursed 12 minutes in the middle of basketball games, over and over again. (Excuse me, I have to look up the ending to that 1993 classic for some curse-breaking ideas…)
Dinwiddie did his usual fourth quarter exorcism of the Nets’ floundering offense, just barely hanging in there as Gibson and Towns both reached trouble on the foul front themselves. Derrick Rose, for all his off-the-court issues, has been a welcomed revelation all season for Minnesota and he kept the Nets at bay until the final buzzer. But Dinwiddie — your league leader in assists off the bench, mind you — did it all once again in the losing effort.
Allen would foul out with three minutes to go, ending an extremely frustrating night for him — but against Towns, who can blame him? Even with Hollis-Jefferson plastered all over Towns again, the Nets just would not lay down and die, getting their deficit down to just six points. At long last, they would die, as time ran out on their comeback attempt. It was a valiant effort in the fourth, only destroyed by another slow-moving start and another horrendous third quarter. Much akin to Thanksgiving dinner, it felt like the Nets were in a dangerous, lazy food coma, only frantically trying to break out when it was already too late.
So, in the spirit of Thanksgiving leftovers, today’s grades are accompanied by a(n)(un)delicious food item. As always, the grades are subjective, but my food-related opinions are not — these are the straight-up facts. From everybody at The Brooklyn Game, we hope you had a wonderful holiday!
11 PTS, 4-10 FG, 5 REB, 1 BLK
Allen Crabbe is the cornbread.
Look, when the cornbread is off, nobody bats an eye. Ultimately, there are other ways to win the dinner table — the cornbread is not a make-or-break staple of the plate. But when that cornbread is on point, it’s absolutely a game-changer.
Crabbe has been heating up as of late and he’ll be understandably key if the Nets want to make something of this season without LeVert.
12 PTS, 3-4 3PT, 6 REB, 1 STL
Shabazz Napier is the macaroni and cheese.
Admittedly, this cheesy delight is not often a go-to side at my holiday feasts, but when it’s there — boy, it’s impossible to ignore. Playing behind Dinwiddie and Russell can have its undeniable thorns, however, Napier is more than happy to make the most of his chances.
Napier had the first-half hot-hand, drilling nine points and three rebounds in his limited eight minutes. Playing an instrumental role with the second unit, Napier sparked a lethargic Nets side back into the ballgame.
12 PTS, 5-8 FG, 4 REB
For today, Jarrett Allen was the cranberry sauce.
This is sure to be a divisive opinion, but cranberry sauce is just simply superfluous. It could be the only thing at the dinner table and I wouldn’t bat an eye, it’s not a difference-maker.
Against the Timberwolves, unfortunately, that was the case for Allen. He struggled all afternoon to find his spots, particularly when paired up with Towns. When Allen checked out in the mid-third quarter with his fourth foul, Towns went to work and the Nets’ hold on the game began to wane. It goes without saying, but TBG loves Allen — it was just not a performance to remember on Friday.
18 PTS, 5-13 FG, 4-10 3PT, 6 REB, 4 AST
Joe Harris is the stuffing.
Stuffing is the irrefutable MVP of the Thanksgiving platter, this much is clear. Joe Harris, according to many educated onlookers, has been the Nets’ MVP through the first 20 games of the season. The dude just does everything so solidly now — defending, shooting, playmaking, ball movement — he’s become so crucial to this Nets’ side.
His three-point streak may have ended against Miami on Tuesday, but he’s right back on the mark. Harris was the first Net into double-figures and kept his team in the mix during a classic third quarter strugglefest.
Stuffing goes with everything, works with any food, mood, or leftover concoction you dream up. If that doesn’t describe Joe Harris to a tee, I’m not sure what would.
18 PTS, 6-14 FG, 8 AST
Spencer Dinwiddie is the turkey.
This should hardly need any explanation, but I’ll bite. There’s no Thanksgiving dinner without a turkey and this Nets side would be far, far worse without Dinwiddie doing Dinwiddie things off the bench. Whether he was dishing the rock or clawing the Nets back into things during the fourth quarter, Dinwiddie put on another memorable performance.
With Russell having an off-night, Dinwiddie needed to step up and he nearly dragged Brooklyn back into this one by himself. He’s committed to his sixth-man role with such excellence, you’ve got to wonder if the Nets will practically beg Dinwiddie to extend when he’s eligible to do so next month.
13 PTS, 3-9 FG, 7 REB, 2 AST
DeMarre Carroll is the pumpkin pie with vanilla ice cream.
Solid as always. Underrated, but it hits the spot every time. Since Carroll returned, things have been simply better for the Nets in every way. There’s no deep analysis here, but Carroll is essential — just like pumpkin pie. I’ll die on this hill.