It was not the ending to their four-game road trip that the Nets wanted. Despite pulling within four points of the Minnesota Timberwolves in the fourth quarter, the Nets fell 136-125 to the T-Wolves on Sunday night at the Target Center.
It was a game where even as the Nets seemed to pull closer to Minnesota for a late-game push, they couldn’t get the breaks they needed to even the game up. That was highlighted by a play early in the fourth after Kyrie Irving cut the deficit to 106-102 off a pair of free throws.
Minnesota had an errant pass head towards the sideline and out of bounds when it bounced off the referee to stay in play and the Timberwolves recovered the ball. They managed to get a three-point shot off from it and pulled ahead by seven.
Brooklyn struggled defensively, which has been a theme at times during the course of the four-game trip. They allowed the T-Wolves to score a season-high 74 points in the first half and then gave up another 64 points in the second half of the game.
The Nets allowed 56.8% shooting in the first half along on Sunday.
“A bit of everything. I don’t know if we gave enough resistance,” Nets coach Steve Nash said about what went wrong. “We weren’t into the body enough. Didn’t feel like our will or our force was felt enough defensively. Whatever it was we just didn’t have the juice down there tonight. Maybe it’s the end of a trip. Whatever it is, we tried to get them to find a way to hang in and see if we can get on a run defensively, but we just never could get it.”
The Nets fell to 29-17 this season and 17-6 on the road. They also fell out of first place in the East and are a half-a-game back of the Miami Heat for the top spot.
Kyrie Irving did his part in his last game for a few days. The Nets guard scored 30 points in the loss on 11-of-20 shooting from the field and 3-0f-8 from three-point range.
Patty Mills had another strong offensive showing with 21 points and rookie Kessler Edwards finished the night with 15 points. Cam Thomas had 11 points off the bench for the Nets.
However, James Harden struggled on Sunday putting up 13 points and shooting 4-of-13. He contributed to six of Brooklyn’s 19 turnovers in the loss and he didn’t have a shot in the fourth quarter.
“I think it was both (free throws and turnovers),” Harden said when asked what contributed to the loss. “Both was a little frustrating. We know that they do a good job of turning teams over. That’s how they get ou, get in transition and get their points. For us the fouls was pretty frustrating. The combination of both leads to not very good shots, not very good offense and them getting easy ones.”
Brooklyn was reminded of how talented former Net D’Angelo Russell is as he put up 23 points and 10 assists for Minnesota. Karl-Anthony Towns had 25 points for the T-Wolves on Sunday night.
The Nets had kept the game close in the first quarter and only trailed 37-36 after the game’s first 12 minutes. Brooklyn kept it close for the first few minutes of the second quarter and traded baskets, but Minnesota opened the game up and ended the first half up by 10.
The Timberwolves led by as many as 15 points in the third quarter, but the Nets closed the gap with a late quarter run and managed to pull within four in the fourth.
“You gotta give them credit. They were locked in on the defensive end,” Irving said about the Timberwolves. “Showing a lot of help. Boxes and elbows, and our ability to adjust on the fly looked good at times and looked really bad in terms of our spacing. … They just stuck to a good game plan against us.”