Brooklyn Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie (8) drives against Minnesota Timberwolves...

Brooklyn Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie (8) drives against Minnesota Timberwolves guard Jeff Teague (0) in the first quarter of an NBA basketball game Saturday, Jan. 27, 2018, in Minneapolis. Credit: AP / Andy Clayton-King

MINNEAPOLIS — If it seemed as though the Nets were having a recurring nightmare, it’s because they were, and coach Kenny Atkinson woke up screaming from it.

One night after digging a 26-point second-quarter hole in Milwaukee, the Nets did the same thing against the Timberwolves on Saturday night at Target Center. They cut the deficit to five in the third quarter but suffered a 111-97 loss in which Atkinson was ejected with 5:55 left in the game.

The Nets trailed by nine in the fourth quarter before the Timberwolves put together a 10-0 run, including two points from the pair of technicals against Atkinson, to push their lead to 98-79 and effectively end the game.

Atkinson admitted he was livid when Joe Harris got to the rim and missed two shots on which he drew contact. Earlier in the period, Harris scored on a layup and was hammered to the floor without getting the and-one foul call.

Asked if his reaction was related to point guard Spencer Dinwiddie’s recent comments about a lack of respect from the referees, Atkinson said, “No, no. I was upset with the particular call . . . These guys do a great job. I really believe that.

“It happens. I got frustrated. I wish I didn’t get frustrated and so emotional. But I did feel like I wanted to protect Joe, protect our player. It’s as simple as that in a box.”

Atkinson walked on the court to protest during a stoppage and was hit with the first technical. When Atkinson continued his protest, referee Tony Brothers hit him with a second quick technical that prompted the coach to erupt. He started to move toward Brothers but was stopped by Dinwiddie.

“Just in terms of seeing your coach stick up for you in general, it’s cool, man,” Dinwiddie said. “We’re all behind him. We appreciate it.”

Asked if he was taken off guard by Atkinson’s emotional reaction, Dinwiddie said, “When he went back [toward Brothers], the second thrust I would say, was a little bit surprising to me. The reason I grabbed him was obviously you never want to see him get in too much trouble. You don’t want him to get on the court or really approach him. Then it’s a scene and then they’re talking about him and all that.”

The Timberwolves (32-20) had six players in double figures, topped by 21 points each from Andrew Wiggins and Jimmy Butler and 16 each from Karl-Anthony Towns and Jamal Crawford. Jahlil Okafor had his biggest game since being acquired by the Nets (18-32) with 21 points, and Nik Stauskas, who arrived from Philadelphia in the same December trade, had 15.

But the Nets committed nine turnovers and fell behind 30-11 after a quarter, which marked their lowest-scoring period this season. The Timberwolves then completed a 17-0 run that gave them a 37-11 lead early in the second quarter — a night after the Bucks went ahead 58-32 just before halftime.

The Nets, however, moved within 12 of the Timberwolves at halftime and got within 58-53 four minutes into the third quarter. At that point, they had outscored Minnesota 42-21. But the Timberwolves responded with a 14-2 run, and the Nets never got closer than nine again.

Unlike Milwaukee, where the Nets lost by 25 points, Harris praised the way they fought to the end. That included the coach.

“Kenny does a good job of being on the edge of respectful but trying to fight for his guys,” Harris said. “Tonight it seemed to be that way entirely, he obviously let it be known. We appreciate him fighting for us. But at the end of the day, it’s about us playing through contact and making the right plays . . . We’re at the end of a road trip where we’ve lost some tough games, some close ones. Kenny is just trying to fight for his guys.”

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