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Nets can’t keep up with Karl-Anthony Towns, Timberwolves

Brook Lopez finds himself sandwiched between Timberwolves' Gorgui

Brook Lopez finds himself sandwiched between Timberwolves' Gorgui Dieng, left, and Shabazz Muhammad as they position themselves for a rebound. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

For the Nets, it was a reminder of what they once had and what they won’t soon be getting.

One being Kevin Garnett. The other being a top draft pick. The two, of course, are intertwined.

Garnett, facing the Nets for the first time since they traded him to Minnesota in February after his 1 1⁄2 years in Brooklyn, was quiet. His younger, quicker teammates were not, though, and the Nets fell to the Timberwolves, 100-85, on Sunday at Barclays Center.

“It was nothing X’s and O’s or anything like that,” said Brook Lopez, who had 20 points, 12 rebounds and five assists. “It was just energy and effort. I don’t know if it was the 1 o’clock game or numerous excuses, but we don’t want those. They just outplayed us.”

The Nets shot just 41 percent from the field, missing 15 of their 21 three-point attempts.

“We didn’t play hard,” said Jarrett Jack, who shot 2-for-9 for four points. “We didn’t show any resistance. The score was very indicative of that.”

The Nets lost their fifth straight game, with each defeat increasing the value of the unprotected first-round draft pick they’ll send to Boston as part of the 2013 trade that brought Garnett and Paul Pierce to Brooklyn.

The Nets’ lack of first-round picks — the Celtics also have the right to swap 2017 picks and will receive the Nets’ 2018 pick — and the fact that a franchise cornerstone like Karl-Anthony Towns won’t be arriving in Brooklyn through the draft was only magnified.

Returning to Barclays Center for the first time since his name was called as the first pick in the NBA Draft in June, Towns had 24 points and 10 rebounds.

“Brings back so many memories, Barclays does,” said Towns, a native of Piscataway, New Jersey. “Madison Square Garden may have my heart since I was a child, but Barclays is where my life really started.”

Andrew Wiggins, the top overall pick in 2014, scored nine of his 16 points in the first quarter as the Timberwolves opened a double-digit lead.

The Nets did show some fight in the second quarter as Andrea Bargnani scored 10 of his 11 points. They went on a 13-2 run to tie the score at 36 before Towns’ three-point play sparked a 9-0 run.

Just before the end of the half, Ricky Rubio, who had 11 of his 15 assists in the first half, drove through the lane and dumped a pass to Towns for a three-point play that opened a 52-43 lead.

With the Timberwolves’ lead down to five in the third, Garnett found Towns for another three-point play. Garnett then deflected a pass, leading to a jumper by Tayshaun Prince for a 63-53 advantage. Boos rained down from the stands in the fourth quarter after Andre Miller intercepted a pass and cruised in for a layup to give Minnesota an 88-72 lead.

Garnett, 39, missed the only shot he took

and grabbed seven rebounds in 10 minutes. He left without speaking to the media.

Gorgui Dieng scored 16 of his 20 points in the first half for Minnesota. Bojan Bogdanovic had 13 points and Thaddeus Young, whom the Nets acquired in the trade for Garnett, had 12.

“Effort, energy, competing — that’s what it’s about. That is what this business has always been about,’’ Nets coach Lionel Hollins said. “You can’t guarantee that you’re going to make shots every night, but you can go out and compete every night. And I didn’t think we competed tonight.”

He added, “This is a very, very disappointing loss, and the way we lost, I take responsibility for us not being out there and ready to go. Obviously, they are young and quick and they took advantage of us in some areas.”

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