Through three quarters, the Brooklyn Nets were on top 86-75, with leads as large as 22 points at a time, against the Minnesota TimberWolves Monday night, seemingly well on their way to a 2-0 start as they head towards a showdown with the Miami Heat on Wednesday.
Not so fast Net fans.
The Timberwolves exploded for 32 points in the fourth quarter, handing the Nets their first loss at the Barclays' Center 107-96, led by Andrei Kirilenko (16 points, 10 rebounds) and rookie Alexey Shved, who scored all 10 of his points in the pivotal fourth, with a pair of three pointers, and the go- ahead basket with 2:35 remaining to give the lead to the Wolves for good. Nikola Pekovic hit an inside bucket followed by a Chase Budinger three pointer with 38 seconds left, all but ending the game with the score 103-96.
The Nets only scored 10 fourth quarter points, who played without starter Gerald Wallace, who sprained his ankle Saturday night. They were outrebounded 46-30, and were thoroughly outplayed by the upstart Wolves. Joe Johnson, Deron Williams, and Brook Lopez combined for 50 points, but were a collective 18 for 46 from the field, as their shot eluded them in the fourth. In the words of coach Avery Johnson:
"I just think for our team, losses like this have to really sting more than they ever have in the past, because losses like this can come back to bite you later in the year…..So we can't afford to lose at home. We're trying to build a home-court advantage, we're trying to get us a rhythm here at home, some momentum. So this was one that was definitely a winnable game."
The Nets now travel to Miami for a huge early season game with the Heat, while the Wolves hope to keep the momentum going in Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love's absence as they fly to Orlando to take on the Magic Wednesday Night.
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