Animal Wranglers: Nets must tame a wild KAT in cold Minnesota

(AP Photo/Stacy Bengs)
(AP Photo/Stacy Bengs)
(AP Photo/Stacy Bengs)

Opponent: Minnesota Timberwolves
Time: 9:00 PM EST
Location: Target Center
Where to Watch: YES Network/Fox Sports Go
Listen: 101.9FM//WFAN 660 AM

The Brooklyn Nets will look to snap a four-game losing streak as they travel to take on Karl Anthony-Towns and the Minnesota Timberwolves. Despite being shorthanded, the Nets played spirited basketball against the defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers last night on the road, competing admirably without Brook Lopez, Caris LeVert, Trevor Booker, and Joe Harris. Even after falling behind by as many as 24 points, the Nets would not quit, but their definitive lack of star power was too much to overcome.

Kyrie Irving could not be stopped in the third quarter as he scored 20 of his 28 points and effectively ended any chance of a Nets’ comeback right after halftime. LeBron James, as usual, was a nightmare for the Nets and he finished with 31 points, 11 rebounds, and 5 assists. Brooklyn was led by Sean Kilpatrick with 18 points and Bojan Bogdanovic, who scored 17 on 7-13 shooting — but the visitors sorely missed the interior presence of Lopez and Booker and the youthful energy of LeVert.

Brooklyn will be looking for a season sweep of the Timberwolves and the latter must start thinking about a serious run should their sights still lay on the post-season. The Nets won their first showdown in November by a score of 119-110 — one of their first games following Jeremy Lin’s first hamstring injury — as Brook Lopez scored 26 points and, generally, limited Towns. On the other hand, it was The Andrew Wiggins Show in Brooklyn as the Canadian scored 36 points and grabbed 8 rebounds.

The Timberwolves are 6-7 since the New Year and are, most recently, coming off a 109-103 loss to the Indiana Pacers.

1. One Motivated KAT
After being snubbed from the All-Star Game once again, last year’s Rookie of the Year may just be a man on a mission. Out to prove voters wrong, Towns scored 33 points and grabbed 10 rebounds against the Pacers on Thursday. Towns, on the season, is averaging 22.7 points, 11.0 rebounds, and 3.0 assists — so the well-rested Lopez and Booker will have their hands full with the heir to the NBA center throne.

2. Justin Hamilton’s confidence
Justin Hamilton has had an up-and-down season during his first year in Brooklyn, the down mostly following a strange bout with an incorrect contract subscription. After starting the season by knocking down open three-pointers at ease, Hamilton hit a rocky stretch for what felt likes weeks on end. However, it seems as if his confidence has returned and Hamilton managed a solid start against the Cavaliers, outhustling their bigs on a few fast break attempts.Hamilton finished with 11 points while shooting effectively under the hoop — can he keep that pace going against his former franchise?

3. An Acy Decision
Quincy Acy has a had a very interesting run thus far with the Brooklyn Nets. With his second 10-day deal on the verge of expiration, it’s intriguing to note how he’s used in tonight’s game. Perhaps Kenny Atkinson and Sean Marks will want to keep an open spot on the roster in hopes of unearthing another diamond in the rough ala Sean Kilpatrick — but Acy has put them in a difficult position.

Acy has shown he can play and the massive improvements to his three-point shooting will have other franchises sniffing around if the Nets move on.