MINNEAPOLIS — Former Nets D’Angelo Russell and Taurean Prince enjoyed a measure of revenge for the trades that sent them away from the Nets as they combined for 38 points to lead the Timberwolves to a 136-125 victory Sunday night at Target Center. The Timberwolves scored at least 30 points in every quarter against the Nets’ porous defense. <
"I don’t know that we gave enough resistance," Nets coach Steve Nash said. "Weren’t into the body enough. Didn’t feel like our will or our force was felt defensively. We didn’t have the juice down there tonight. Maybe it’s the end of a trip. We tried to find a way to get them to hang in and see if we can get on a run defensively. We just never could get it."
After trailing by as much as 15 points in the third quarter, the Nets cut their deficit to 104-100 with 10:17 left to play when Patty Mills buried a three-pointer. But they couldn’t find a way to get the stops they needed down the stretch against the explosive T-Wolves. It didn’t help the Nets’ defense that center LaMarcus Aldridge fouled out with 7:19 left to play.
The T-Wolves put together a 21-3 run that included 10 points from Karl-Anthony Towns and a pair of threes from Prince to push their lead back to 127-110 with 3:41 left in the game. James Harden only played five minutes in the fourth quarter, but he was scoreless and didn’t take a shot in that time and he totaled just 13 points and 13 assists but struggled with 4-of-13 shooting and six turnovers.
Asked about the defensive job the Wolves did on Harden, Nash said, "They played a big, long lineup. They flooded the paint with a lot of actions. They did a good job trying to make him play in a crowd."
Kyrie Irving led the Nets (29-17) with 30 points, Mills had 21. The Nets finished their road trip at 2-2. Russell had a 7-for-13 shooting night and 10 assists for the Timberwolves (23-23), who also got 25 points from Anthony Edwards and 23 from Towns. Prince contributed 15 points.
The real difference in the game was obvious from the boxscore. The Nets committed 19 turnovers, leading to 28 Timberwolves points while forcing only nine turnovers leading to just 10 points. That was bad, but the Nets were more upset with the officiating. Minnesota got to the line 31 times to make 26 free throws compared to a 14-for-15 performance by the Nets, who were called for 29 fouls compared to 17 on the Timberwolves.
Harden was asked whether he blamed the Nets’ turnover or the disparity in the fouls that were called for the Nets’ inability to come all the way back. "I think it was both," Harden said. "It was a little frustrating. We know that they do a good job of turning teams over. That’s how they get out, get in transition, get their points, but for us the fouls were pretty frustrating. So a combination of both leads to not very good shots, not very good offense and them getting easy ones."
Nash repeated his previous assertion that Harden has been the "poster child" for new rules emphasizing that no foul is called when a player makes a non-basketball move. Harden draws more contact than most anyone in the NBA, but he hasn’t gotten to the line as frequently this season as in the past.
Harden agreed he’s not getting calls from the referees this season. Asked why, Harden said, "That’s a good question. I don’t know. I don’t even want to talk about it, but when I get to the basket, it’s the same calls that other guys are getting. Obviously, you can’t call all of them, but there’s ones where there’s clearly stiff arms and trips and things like that. There’s no consistency. It’s frustrating, but whatever. Tonight was just a tough one for us."