Wolves Can't Complete Comeback, Fall To Nets 91-83
It’s not that the Wolves didn’t play well Wednesday night against the Nets.
They shot over 45 percent from the field for the third straight game. They had fewer turnovers than Brooklyn and they finally outscored their opponent in the third quarter—something they have not been able to do for several games.
But the Nets’ core of Brook Lopez, Deron Williams and Joe Johnson was simply too much to handle—along with their ability to capitalize on second chance opportunities—as Brooklyn coasted past Minnesota 91-83.
Wolves vs. Nets
The Nets added their ninth win in 10 games and are 12-2 since P.J. Carlesimo took over as head coach; meanwhile, the Wolves lost their sixth out of their last seven contests.
“I told the guys after the game,” coach Terry Porter said, “'I know it's a tough stretch right now, but every day we have to come together, play together, play for each other and trust each other. Continue to work until we get this thing turned around.'”
Brooklyn jumped out to a 14-2 lead at the beginning of the game, with Minnesota’s only points coming from a Ricky Rubio lefty lay-up. The Wolves eventually trimmed the gap to five near the end of the quarter, but it was a lead that the Nets would not surrender for the rest of the contest.
“They started the game really good, and we came out flat,” J.J. Barea said. “We did a good job of staying in there. We fought, some things didn’t go our way, but that’s how it is.”
Fan favorite Chris Johnson, one of Minnesota’s latest signees off of a 10-day contract, came in and immediately made an impact. He played the entire second quarter and scored 10 points, several of which were rim-rocking dunks. Despite his offensive success, Lopez had amassed 14 points already [6-for-7] and the Wolves went into halftime down by 11, 53-42.
“I think Chris and Mickael [Gelabale], they are doing a great job as new guys coming to the team,” Andrei Kirilenko said. “They are using their chance and helping us as much as possible, giving a great spark off the bench.”
And while third quarters are normally treacherous for Minnesota, Derrick Williams poured in nine points to help the Wolves to a spark after halftime. In a game that was noticeably scrappy, Brooklyn used their size advantage to draw fouls and convert from the line. They also out-rebounded the Wolves 45-37 and logged 16 second-chance points.
The Wolves looked like they might make a comeback at several points, but the trio of Lopez [22 points], Johnson [18 points] and Williams [18 points, eight assists] along with 14 points off the bench from C.J. Watson proved to be too much to handle.
“We gave those guys easy opportunities,” Porter said. “Our guys did a great job of fighting back. I think we got it back it down to four points, and then they went off and made some shots down the stretch. We just couldn't fight our way back in it.”
Kirilenko had 15 points to lead the scoring charge for Minnesota; Dante Cunningham scored a season-high-tying 14 points, and Luke Ridnour dropped 13 points as his 10th double-digit scoring effort in his last 11 games. Ricky Rubio dished out six assists for his fifth straight game.
Leader of the Pack: Chris Johnson
At the end of a bleak first quarter, Chris Johnson came in and ignited Minnesota yet again. He scored 10 points on 5-of-7 shooting in the second quarter [12 total in the game], dunking two more times in the process. He also swatted three blocked shots and grabbed six rebounds, making a big impact as a player on just a 10-day contract.
“"Chris has been great,” Porter said. “Obviously he had two or three blocks tonight right at the rim and that's something where we didn't have a presence before but also his ability to run the floor and get some alley-oops. His activity has been great to have. He has helped us a lot."
Highlight of the Night
At the beginning of the second quarter, J.J. Barea tossed up an alley-oop to Chris Johnson who elevated and finished hard. Johnson went on to dunk a couple more times, energizing Target Center and further establishing himself as a fan favorite.
The Numbers Game
“I believe we are going to get this thing turned around. Everyone is going to battle everyday when we get on the floor. It's all about trying to get better."— Wolves coach Terry Porter
The Wolves will travel out east for a back-to-back road trip, playing first on Friday in Washington and then on Saturday in Charlotte. Their next Target Center appearance is on Jan. 30 against a Western Conference foe, the Los Angeles Clippers.