The Brooklyn Nets are one of the biggest disappointments in the NBA, and they'll have to try to turn things around without Deron Williams.
Williams won't play as the visiting Nets attempt to win for just the second time in eight games Friday night against the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Brooklyn (3-8) made several major moves in the offseason but has so far failed to live up to expectations. The Nets have allowed an average of 103.7 points in losing six of seven, and injuries aren't helping.
Williams landed on an opponent's foot and re-injured his left ankle in the second quarter of Wednesday's 95-91 loss at Charlotte. The injury forced him to miss the two previous games.
Center Brook Lopez will miss his fourth straight game with a sore ankle. He leads the Nets with 20.5 points per game, and his presence down low has been sorely missed.
Brooklyn is averaging 34.0 points in the paint over the last three games after putting up 46.4 during the five previous contests with Lopez in the lineup. The Nets were outscored 52-34 under the basket Wednesday.
"Fifty-two points in the paint is unacceptable," said forward Andray Blatche, who had 25 points and seven boards. "It's our song all season. We keep saying it's early, but until we buckle down on defense, it's going to be the same results. We've got to take pride because it's embarrassing. It's real embarrassing."
The Nets ended an eight-game slide in Minnesota with a 91-83 win Jan. 23, but they didn't have to contend with forward Kevin Love, who missed both meetings last season with injuries.
This time, Brooklyn could benefit from the Timberwolves (7-6) being in a stretch of playing five games in seven days.
Minnesota lost 104-100 at Washington on Tuesday and shot 37.8 percent from the floor, including 5 of 22 from 3-point range, in a 102-98 home defeat to the Los Angeles Clippers the next night.
"We were just tired, I think, and it's not getting any easier heading forward," Love said. "Nights happen like that and you just try to fight through it. I was a little frustrated. I was getting slammed out there."
Love is looking to bounce back after he shot 2 of 14 and finished with 10 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists. Still, he's among the league leaders with 25.4 points and 13.3 rebounds per game.
Kevin Martin isn't far behind with an average of 23.6 points. He scored 28 and added a season-high 10 boards Wednesday.
Martin, though, has totaled 23 points over his last three meetings with the Nets.