Brooklyn Nets Miss Kevin Garnett in Loss to Timberwolves

The Brooklyn Nets honored Kevin Garnett on his first game back after being traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves for current player Thaddeus Young. It was a formal changing of the guard after dismantling the “Five Year Plan” that was supposed to bring a title to Brooklyn. The Nets had only respectful things to say about Garnett as he returned to the Barclays Center to play since the last minute trade deadline deal.

Here’s what Joe Johnson said of Kevin Garnett, courtesy of the New York Post

“He was great for us. Just his leadership alone, his championship pedigree - that  was for more than anything that we could have asked for at that point in time. So he definitely left his mark,” Joe Johnson said. “That’s my buddy man. …I talk to him probably once or twice a week.”

Do you ever wonder what he’s saying in those conversations?

The Nets showed their appreciation for Garnett’s service before the game. Then they laid down and allowed his new team to giftwrap a “W” just in time for the holiday season.

Sunday afternoon, the Brooklyn Nets got beat pillar to post to the Minnesota Timberwolves, 100-85, to lose it’s 20th game of the season, with a five-game losing streak to boot. It’s not the fact that the Nets lost to the Timberwolves, it’s HOW they lost to the Timberwolves.

The word ‘stagnant’ has been used to describe the Nets so much this season that it could be used as a team name instead of the Nets. Minnesota totally dominated the Nets in every facet of the game you could imagine while showing the NBA world why the Nets are falling into a bottomless pit of oblivion. Minnesota used their athleticism to stop anything the Nets wanted to accomplish in the game, starting with stopping Brook Lopez.

Brook Lopez finished with 20 points, 10 rebounds, and five assists on 8/11 shooting. He probably should have more shots and DEFINITELY more assists in this game, but his teammates let him down… again.

Joe Johnson has been in trade talks in the last few weeks. It’s hard to find any takers on a maxed-out player who is playing so badly that his Phoenix Suns days are being brought up. Johnson finished with four points on 2/10 shooting. Joe Johnson was known as Joe ‘Jesus’. Now he just needs Jesus as he is shooting 10/38 in his last four games after the Minnesota debacle. This is bad; real bad.

Jarrett Jack was even worse. Jack finished with four points on 2/9 shooting. He finished with six assists with three turnovers. Ugh!

As for the Timberwolves, they are showing the Nets that going through the draft to build a team might not be a bad idea. (Oops! I forgot, you need draft picks for that!) Karl Anthony Towns dominated the paint with 24 points and 10 rebounds. This is on par with Lopez. Only Towns had friends that decided to come to play. Andrew Wiggins finished with 16 points, Gorgui Dieng had a double-double with 20 points and 10 rebounds, and Ricky Rubio had 15 assists to keep things flowing smoothly.

Here’s what I got from this game…

The Brooklyn Nets miss Kevin Garnett.

Look, the “Big Ticket” is past his prime. Garnett is averaging just 3.2 points and 4.7 rebounds in 15.8 minutes with Minnesota this season. Who cares, you ask? Karl Anthony-Towns and Gorgi Dieng do. He is providing the mentorship that this Brooklyn team lacks and will need if they want to be successful.

Head coach Lionel Hollins weighs in…

“He brought a lot, because not only was he here early, he worked hard. He didn’t like to take any days off. You had to make him get out of practice,” coach Lionel Hollins said. “There’s guys laying over there  not taking it seriously - KG took it seriously. And made everybody else take it seriously.”

“KG worked hard and he also showed you how you could work hard, told you what you could do. Practices were spirited because KG had a lot of energy and a lot of life. The more guys like that you have on your team the better it is. And those are the kind of vets that help your team.

Sometimes you hear that players can influence a game without scoring a point. Kevin Garnett did just that. He scored no points and grabbed seven rebounds. But he is providing leadership to a franchise that is on its way up and left a franchise on its way down. The Timberwolves came out to play on Sunday. The Nets didn’t. This is a reflection of leadership in the locker room.

Everyone in the NBA can play basketball. Not everyone has the professionalism that Garnett does or the willingness to learn the game like the young players on the Timberwolves.

Isn’t it obvious that Garnett knows how to shut down Brook Lopez? When Lopez touched the ball, Minnesota send double and even triple teams to get the ball out of his hands to brick layers… I mean, shooters, like Joe Johnson and Jarrett Jack. It obviously worked to the tune of 5/21 from the land of the extra point. Brooklyn is the worst three-point shooting team in the NBA. Garnett checks the scouting report with head coach Sam Mitchell and comes up with a game plan that shuts down the Nets.

The Nets’ need right now is a leader that will work like Garnett does…EVERY DAY! The Nets came out unprepared and that falls on the shoulders of Joe Johnson, Brook Lopez, and Jarrett Jack. Lionel Hollins can only go so far (and has) to get this team to play.

Will the next Kevin Garnett please step up?