Minnesota Timberwolves' Nikola Pekovic, center, attempts a shot as Nets'...

Minnesota Timberwolves' Nikola Pekovic, center, attempts a shot as Nets' Shaun Livingston, left, and Kevin Garnett defend in the first quarter. (Nov. 22, 2013) Credit: AP

With a little more than three minutes remaining in the first quarter Friday night, Nets coach Jason Kidd had seen enough lethargic play from his team, and he signaled for a break in the action.

"Timeout, New Jersey!" the Target Center's public-address announcer screamed with glee. He caught himself seconds later, probably after someone alerted him about his gaffe.

Now that was just plain disrespectful. Hey, at least the Jersey version used to try. Mostly, they just weren't talented enough.

Same can't be said for this $100-million crew, which makes the Nets' rough early-season start all the more alarming.

Looking disinterested and minus four of their key players, the Nets never were really in this game once the ball was tossed up for the opening tip. Their slumbering effort was an embarrassing display of unemotional basketball.

The guy on a giant hamster wheel during halftime got more of a rise out of everyone in the arena than anything the Nets did in their 111-81 loss to the Timberwolves. The margin of defeat was the worst of their 3-9 start, and that's saying something.

"I can't speak for everybody, but [I] know I'm embarrassed," said Andray Blatche, who led the Nets with 16 points. "With the players that we have in this locker room, there's no way possible we should be losing games like this or even have our record this way. We have enough talent, enough vets to be a great team.

"So there's no excuse for the way we are playing right now. There's no excuse. No excuse at all. It's just real embarrassing."

This one was so out of hand that Wolves coach Rick Adelman had mercy on the Nets, who've dropped eight of nine and fallen to 1-7 on the road. Adelman emptied his bench with 3:01 remaining -- in the third quarter.

By then, the Nets were in a 34-point hole, already having checked out mentally and showing no fight or spirit at all.

The Timberwolves (8-6) were led by Kevin Love's impressive 17-point, 16-rebound effort. Minnesota had more than twice as many offensive rebounds (17) as the Nets had assists (seven).

"We all have a lot of pride in this locker room," Paul Pierce said. "Right now, we are still trying to put it all together. If it's not one thing, it's the other. But we feel like we are still confident we are going to turn this thing around."

If so, Pierce is going to have to get it going offensively and find ways to be more involved, particularly with Brook Lopez (ankle), Deron Williams (ankle), Andrei Kirilenko (back spasms) and Jason Terry (bruised knee) nursing injuries.

Pierce was a non-factor, shooting only 2-for-11 and misfiring on all four three-point attempts. He is 7-for-34 from the floor in his last three games.

"I'm just struggling right now, just simple and plain," he said. "I think I'm getting great looks. I've just got to be able to knock them down. I've got to be able to step up with these guys out and I've got to be able to play better basketball."

The same can be said of the rest of the Nets. Otherwise, who knows what kind of changes owner Mikhail Prokhorov might demand. It's not as if $180-plus million -- factoring in the luxury taxes -- is chump change. Even for a billionaire.

"It is what it is," Kevin Garnett said. "We've created this monster, and we've got to deal with it. You're going to have the business of basketball come into play, I'm sure, and management is probably going to do what they've got to do, and that's out of our hands. We control our destiny, who we are as individuals and players. So you've got to -- again for the fifth time I'm saying this -- you have to look at yourself and try to fix this thing."

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