Recap: Nets 85, Timberwolves 100 - The Nets are Hopeless
Youth beat experience as the Brooklyn Nets lost at home to the Minnesota Timberwolves 100-85.
This is the type of game the Nets used to win. A team would come in to Brooklyn with youth, athleticism, and talent only to be ground down by the Nets grim, determined professionalism. No more. The Wolves pummeled the Nets gleefully, like a team that still derives joy from playing the game of basketball.
It started not with a Wiggins, but with a Dieng. Gorgui Dieng, a player taken with one of the picks the Nets sent as part of the Deron WIlliams trade, scored 10 points in the first quarter, all of them at the rim or at the line. The Nets interior defense was bad, their perimeter defense was non-existent. Ricky Rubio penetrated at will, dishing 6 assists, all from drive-and-kicks. Rubio didn’t just find the open man, but he passed men open like a great quarterback, finding empty spaces and giving his teammates to easy buckets.
While the Wolves started the game with creativity and energy on offense, the Nets were stagnant once again. Brook Lopez went 4-5 for 8 points, but the rest of the Nets struggled to do anything against a more athletic Wolves team. At the end of the first quarter, the Wolves were up 26-16, and they never trailed after the first minute of the game.
The Nets did their best to stay in the game, scoring a little easier in the second quarter, even if their defense was still poor. The Nets, perhaps inspired by the Wolves passing magic, started to move the ball and actually find some rhythm on offense. Also, Andrea Bargnani came in and started making shots, which happens sometimes. At the end of the half, the Nets trailed 52-43.
There would be no comeback. The Wolves aren’t just better than the Nets now, they will probably be better for the next decade. They have Towns, Wiggins, LaVine, Rubio, Muhammad, and Dieng. Most of them lottery picks, most of them years away from their prime. The Wolves will probably grab one more lottery pick this year, another young player to complement their team, but they already have their core. A core that is young and good and will soon be great. This team has hope, with evidence that that hope can be trusted.
Great teams are built from great players, and great players are usually found in the lottery portion of the draft. Unless something catastrophic happens in Boston, the Nets won’t be there for a while. It is hard to watch games like this, where the Nets are outclassed by a team that won’t make the playoffs this season, and then realize that it probably won’t get better. The Nets might dream of adding Mike Conley or Nicolas Batum and vaulting right back into contention, after all, they have the cap space. But almost every team in the league has cap space. Why would a good player in their prime want to come to Nets.
The Nets lost 100-85, but the losses don’t really matter. Now that it is clear the Nets won’t make the playoffs, their win-loss record is all but meaningless. Fans can’t even root for losses and a high draft pick. The Nets don’t even have hope; they traded it to the Boston Celtics.
- Joe Johnson played like someone doing a parody of how Joe Johnson has played this season. He played like a live interpretation of Shelley’s Ozymandias. I don’t know if he could contribute 10-15 minutes off the bench for a contender, but the Nets should buy him out and let him try, because whatever this is isn’t working.
- Markel Brown played 6 minutes. He may not be a good player at this point in his career, but he is young and athletic with a long wingspan. Could he have done something to combat the constant penetration of Ricky Rubio? Perhaps not, but not trying it for a sustained period of time is a failure of imagination.
- The Nets missed Shane Larkin and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, both injured, who always bring energy on defense and are capable of pressuring the ball.
- Andrea Bargnani played 19 minutes and was a +2, the only Net with a positive plus/minus. This is the world in which we all now live.
- The Nets lose to the Timberwolves 100-85, dropping their fifth straight to fall to 7-20 on the season. They play today at 8:00 pm (ET) against the Bulls in Chicago.