“New location, same Nets”
The Nets may have moved to Brooklyn, but they played eerily similar to the team from New Jersey.
In the same fashion as last year, the Nets choked down the stretch in front of a crowd less than capacity.
Despite playing without Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio, the Minnesota Timberwolves overcame a 22-point deficit and took down the Nets, 107-96, in front of 14,017 fans.
“That fourth quarter was just a big collapse,” Deron Williams said.
Those in attendance showered the team with boos following a fourth-quarter meltdown that saw the T’Wolves outscore the Nets, 32-10.
“We may have deserved it in that fourth quarter,” Joe Johnson said.
The systematic collapse did not happen all at once. Although the Nets pointed to their defense, the offense went stagnant. The ball stuck, the shots became forced, and the execution out of timeouts was nonexistent.
“The offense was all iso,” Williams said. “We’ve got to move the ball a little bit better. When we got up 20, we were moving the ball and getting open shots, easy shots.”
Worst of all, the T’Wolves displayed more hustle and effort than the Nets even though they played Sunday night.
“There’s no way they should outwork us, no team should outwork us,” Joe Johnson said. “We’ve got to outwork somebody night in and night out just with effort. I don’t know, in that fourth quarter we just didn’t bring it.”
The Nets led by 22 points in the third quarter before going into cruise control.
No one told the T’Wolves the game was over and they played like it. Despite playing without their two best players, a scrappy band of reserves persevered against the a Nets team that spent $315 million during the offseason.
The Nets will take on the MIami Heat Wednesday night on the road. The Heat, however, is not missing LeBron James, Chris Bosh, or Dwyane Wade.
Losing leads and mishandling success have plagued the Nets for the last two seasons. The Brooklyn faithful endured their first taste of it.
Goat of the game Avery Johnson
The players may have eased on the accelerator, but Johnson coached like this game was in the bag.
He became too content to live with his bench even once the two teams started trading baskets.
On the one hand, it’s hard to blame Johnson for going to his bench early considering the Nets were up by 22 and the T’Wolves were missing Love and Rubio. Minnesota also played the night before.
Going to the bench wasn’t the problem, but Johnson did not know when to abandon the plan.
Johnson did not bring Deron Williams and Brook Lopez back into the game until the 10:06 mark of the fourth quarter. The momentum was gone by that point as the Nets led, 88-82.
Andrei Kirilenko blocked a C.J. Watson shot attempt and started the fastbreak the other way. Chase Budinger grabbed the rebound and then dished the ball off to a cutting Kirilenko, who finished with a soaring two-handed slam.
Johnson signaled for a timeout but the Nets had no answers.
With the game tied, 96-96, and 4:13 left, the T’Wolves closed with an 11-0 run.
The Nets panicked and folded, proving this was not one of Johnson’s better nights.
Quote of the Night
“Defensively we’ve got a long ways to go,” Avery Johnson said. “They had 30 points in the paint in the first half. Normally you want teams to score around that for the whole game.”
Cause for Concern
Aside from the obvious collapse, the Nets yielded 62 points in the point.
They had no answer for Nikola Pekovic, who went for a career-high 27 points during their last meeting on Feb. 3, 2012, at the Prudential Center. He eclipsed that mark two weeks later against the Houston Rockets.
He opened the game going 7-of-8 from the field and finished with 21 points and seven rebounds.
Dante Cunningham also came off the bench to wreak havoc in the paint. He collected 11 points and 11 rebounds in 26:16.