The Nets (7-19) lost their fourth straight game on Friday night after the Indiana Pacers (16-9) outscored them 32-20 in the fourth quarter en route to a 104-97 win at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Despite a 79-72 lead to begin the final period (which included six Nets turnovers), the Nets scored just five points in the ensuing six and half minutes allowing the Pacers to blow by them to victory. The frequent inability to close games through layers of inefficiency once again stalled the Nets and continues to epitomize their early season woes.
The usual regret and hindsight was evident in the postgame.
“Our offense went a little stagnant, and they were able to get some transition baskets that kind of put them in a rhythm,” Jarrett Jack said. “We gave ourselves an opportunity. We just let go of the wagon a little bit in the fourth.”
The aforementioned “wagon” could not be wobbling more as the Nets approach the end of the calendar year with only the lowly Philadelphia 76ers (1-27) behind them in the Eastern Conference standings. While CEO Brett Yormark’s recent declaration of aggressiveness in the offseason may stir limited optimism for Nets faithful, the morale at Barclays Center could use a jolt in hurry.
Today in a Sunday matinée at Barclays Center, the Nets will welcome in the Minnesota Timberwolves (10-16) who are coming off a much-needed 99-95 win over Sacramento on Friday. The T’Wolves , losers of eight of their previous nine games, snapped a four game losing streak led by reigning NBA Rookie of the Year Andrew Wiggins’ 32-point, 10-rebound, and six-assist performance.
The Timberwolves, not known for their draft proficiency in the last decade, have appeared to hit big on their last two picks. The late Flip Saunders (former head coach and president of basketball operations) and GM Milt Newton landed Wiggins (via trade after the draft) and Karl-Anthony Towns to lead their franchise into the next decade; so far the returns look promising.
The 20-year-old Wiggins is averaging 21.3 points in his second season, including four games over 30 points. The 6’11″ Towns, also 20, is averaging 15.4 points, nine rebounds, and two blocks in 27.9 minutes per game. While most of his points come in the low post or mid-range, Towns is 10-for-22 (45.5 percent) from three point range included in his 53.5 pct field goal percentage. Towns had only eight three-point attempts in 39 games with the University of Kentucky last season.
On Wednesday, point guard Ricky Rubio came one point and two steals short of a quadruple-double (9 pts, 12 assists, 10 rebounds, 8 steals) in their 107-102 loss to the Knicks at the Garden. For the season, Rubio is averaging 10 points, 8.7 assists, and two steals but shooting only 34 percent from the field.
What to watch for: The return of KG.
Kevin Garnett will always be known as the Big Ticket/Franchise in Minnesota. In Boston for six seasons, he will be remembered as part of the “Big Three” that hoisted another banner in the rafters. For Brooklyn fans, Garnett (besides the king’s ransom of draft picks given up) will probably be known as the spirit animal we wished upon Deron Williams.
It’s fair to say Garnett’s acquisition came to fruition through a false calculation within the Nets’ front office, but the greatness of his career and what he represents to the league cannot be denied. At 39 years old, KG is averaging 3.2 points and 4.7 rebounds in a career-low 15.8 minutes per game, taking on a mentorship role with the Timberpups. For his career, the 15-time All-Star has one NBA MVP (2003-04) to his credit and made first team All-Defense nine times, along with Defensive Player of the Year in 2007-08. Ian Eagle may be get one more face full of chalk just for nostalgia’s sake.
Tip-off is at 1:00 EDT at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.