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Nets start home stretch with loss to Timberwolves

Brooklyn Nets guard D'Angelo Russell, who had five

Brooklyn Nets guard D'Angelo Russell, who had five assists and only five points, brings the ball up court during a 112-102 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves at Barclays Center on Nov. 23, 2018. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

It would be something of a futile endeavor to further describe the Nets’ poor play Friday afternoon, not when the team already had done such a thorough job of it. They were “searching for energy” and “lacked juice,” Kenny Atkinson said. They had no focus, Jarrett Allen added. And they were lackadaisical.

You can take your pick on that last one, as three different players described the Nets’ effort that way: Allen, Joe Harris and D’Angelo Russell.

It was, in short, a very ugly matinee, and the result — a mostly lifeless 112-102 loss to the Timberwolves — means the Nets are 3-5 at Barclays Center, where they’ll be playing six of their next seven games. The Timberwolves, meanwhile, earned their first road victory this season, having entered Friday 0-8 away from the Twin Cities.

“We came out lackadaisical,” Russell said. “We didn’t have that bounce in our step, just that energy from the start of the game. [Even if you don’t have that], we can still play defense, still be physical, still gain rebounds, still do stuff like that, but as far as on the offensive end, it carried over. It held us back, and those missed rebounds and defensive assignments led to them getting points and us not.”

The Nets committed 19 turnovers for 31 points and failed to solve Derrick Rose (25 points) and Karl-Anthony Towns (21). Towns had three fouls before halftime and five with six minutes left, but it hardly stopped him as he scored 19 points in the second half. The Nets did receive 52 points from their reserves, but starters Russell and Jared Dudley struggled, scoring five and four points, respectively. Harris and Spencer Dinwiddie led the Nets with 18 points apiece.

The Nets trailed by as many as 18 in the third quarter and clawed back to within four with three minutes left in the game before fading again.

“We were searching for energy, but we just didn’t have the juice,” said Atkinson, who before the game acknowledged that noon tipoffs can take a toll on NBA teams. “We couldn’t get over the hump . . . I think our turnovers were a big part of our inefficiencies tonight.”

The Nets faded in the second quarter, getting outscored 32-23 to go into the break down by five points. That deficit ballooned dramatically in the third after Towns erupted for 17 points.

“We tried different things, we tried different guys on him, we tried fronting him,” Atkinson said. “We just couldn’t get the stop we needed.”

The Timberwolves outscored the Nets 35-23 in the frame and took an 18-point lead (87-69) on Rose’s three-point play with 42.6 seconds left.

“They really just came out more aggressive than us,” Allen said. “You could tell — that first half we started slow. We didn’t start the third quarter how we wanted to. We started picking up in the fourth, but we’ve got to start the game like we started the fourth.”

The Nets scored the first five points of the fourth quarter and trimmed the deficit to 102-94 on Allen’s layup with 5:12 to go. Allen added a layup and a booming alley-oop dunk a minute later to get the Nets to within six and, with three minutes to go, Dinwiddie hit two free throws to draw them to within 104-100.

It wasn’t nearly enough, though, as Rose’s floater and Robert Covington’s dunk a minute and a half later gave the Timberwolves room to breathe.

“You can’t blame it on the 12 p.m. game,” Allen said. The Nets were “just not being focused, really. We came into the game a little lackadaisical.”

Based on everyone’s assessment, it certainly showed.

New York Sports