Nets fizzle in fourth quarter, lose to Timberwolves
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Brook Lopez was almost zombie-like.
The Nets center's facial expression barely changed. It seemed as if he were peering into an abyss. That's what blowing a 22-point lead against an undermanned Minnesota Timberwolves team and dropping a 107-96 decision will do to you.
The frustrated Lopez appeared numb. "I feel that we really gave that one away," he said in between a few deep sighs.
The Nets certainly let one slip through their fingers Monday night at the Barclays Center, getting outscored 32-10 in the fourth quarter and falling to a Minnesota squad that was without key players Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love.
They were done in by some atrocious fourth-quarter defense and maddening shot selection, quickly erasing all those feel- good vibes that were so prevalent after Saturday night's season-opening win.
The Nets lacked that killer instinct Monday night. They failed to deliver the knockout blow to a team they had on the ropes in the third quarter, when they came out of the locker room sizzling and built on a 62-47 halftime lead.
"For our team, losses like this have to really sting more than they ever have in the past because losses like this can come back to bite you later on in the year," coach Avery Johnson said. "So we can't afford to lose at home. We are trying to build a home-court advantage. We are trying to get us a rhythm here at home, some momentum. So this was one that was definitely a winnable game and we just kind of ran out of gas there at the end."
The Nets shot 5-for-7 from three-point range in the third quarter, building a 22-point lead at 71-49 when Deron Williams swished one from downtown with 9:15 left in the quarter.
But they let Minnesota hang around and wound up getting outscored by 22 points and outrebounded 17-2 in the fourth quarter.
The Timberwolves grabbed a 98-96 lead on Alexey Shved's runner in the lane with 2:36 remaining, and Nikola Pekovic's layup with 1:06 left put Minnesota ahead 100-96.
Chase Budinger's three-pointer from the right side was the dagger, handing the Timberwolves a 103-96 cushion.
"It seemed like they got all the loose balls in the fourth quarter, all the extra rebounds which gave them extra possessions, and they were knocking down shots," said Joe Johnson, who led the Nets with 19 points.
Williams had 18 points and 13 assists and Lopez scored 13 points.
While the Nets were freelancing on offense, trying too much isolation and one-on-one play, Minnesota totally outworked them in the second half.
"It's something that shouldn't happen," Williams said. "It's a game that we are up 20. We should be able to put them away and keep them at a distance and not give up a 20-point lead."
The Nets learned the hard way that teams are going to be amped up when they come into Brooklyn to play them.
"It's tough, man," Joe Johnson said. "Obviously, these are the games that you definitely want to get, especially to have some momentum going out on the road. But we've got to put it behind us and move forward.
"This was a tough loss."