Brooklyn Nets vs. Minnesota Timberwolves Takeaways and Grades

Dec 20, 2015; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves guard Zach LaVine (8) and center Gorgui Dieng (5) defend Brooklyn Nets center Brook Lopez (11) in the second half at Barclays Center. The Timberwolves won 100-85. Mandatory Credit: William Hauser-USA TODAY Sports

Dec 20, 2015; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves guard Zach LaVine (8) and center Gorgui Dieng (5) defend Brooklyn Nets center Brook Lopez (11) in the second half at Barclays Center. The Timberwolves won 100-85. Mandatory Credit: William Hauser-USA TODAY Sports

The Brooklyn Nets hosted the Minnesota Timberwolves on Tuesday night in yet another game that was decided in the final minute.

The Nets were able to raise their record to an impressive 3-4. If Nets fans were told prior to the season that the team would be one game below .500 seven games into the season, it is safe to say just about everyone would over-the-moon.

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Although the Timberwolves entered the game at an unimpressive 1-4 mark, the Nets should be proud of taking down this young, yet talented team.

It was a very tight game from start to finish, as both the Nets and Timberwolves managed to put a ton of points on the board. As per usual, Brook Lopez came through for the Nets, scoring 26 points.

Trevor Booker continued his impressive start to the season by totaling 15 points, nine rebounds, and three steals. Booker is exactly what the Nets have tried to become this season: a scrappy, physical basketball player. He is certainly undersized for his position, but overcomes his lack of size through his aggressive play. His style of play fits the Nets offense perfectly; he is a power forward who has the athletic ability to run the floor in a fast-paced offense.

Although he had an overall mediocre performance, Bojan Bogdanovic did drain a huge three-ball at the end of the game which completely changed the momentum in the final minute. Bogdanovic continues to come up clutch when the Nets need him.

Finally, sixth-man Sean Kilpatrick had another exciting outing, scoring 14 points to go along with five rebounds and three assists.

Mar 19, 2016; Auburn Hills, MI, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard Sean Kilpatrick (6) drives to the basket during the fourth quarter against the Detroit Pistons at The Palace of Auburn Hills. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

Mar 19, 2016; Auburn Hills, MI, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard Sean Kilpatrick (6) drives to the basket during the fourth quarter against the Detroit Pistons at The Palace of Auburn Hills. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

Takeaways:

1. The Bench Is Winning Games For The Nets

Now, don’t get me wrong: the starters on this Nets team have played very well thus far. However, without the contribution from the backups, the Nets would not have a 3-4 record.

First of all, you have to note that not one player played 30+ minutes. Kilpatrick and Lopez both played team-high 28 minutes. Kilpatrick, the sixth-man, comes off of the bench which makes his numbers even more impressive. The only negative you can draw from Kilpatrick’s performance was his team-high six turnovers. As beneficial as Kilpatrick has been, six turnovers can kill a team, and in this case, the six turnovers could very well have been a reason for the Nets losing, had they lost this game.

Then you take a look at the trio that is Joe Harris, Luis Scola, and Justin Hamilton. The three combined for 29 points, 13 rebounds, and 5 assists over a combined 64 minutes of play.

To sum it up, the bench received 106 minutes compared to 135 minutes played by the starters. It is a game-changer for the Nets to have a bench that can be counted upon to win games.

2. Brook Lopez Is Back

Not that he was truly gone, but many were questioning whether Lopez was a fit for this Nets offense. With this performance following his recent performances, Lopez has put that concern to rest.

Lopez is averaging 26 points per game over the past three games. After the first four games of the season, Lopez was averaging 15 points per game.

On the other hand, his rebounding has been horrendous. He is averaging an embarrassing 5.2 rebounds per game. Last year, we saw an upward trend as far as Lopez’s rebounding went. However, this trend has disappeared as he is rebounding as poorly as he ever has. You can blame the Nets small-ball offense, but at the end of the day, the seven foot center needs to find a way to secure more than 5.2 rebound per game.

Putting the rebounding aside, Lopez has had a stellar start to the season in terms of scoring. If he can continue this elite offensive play while improving in the rebounding area, Lopez can elevate his name into the all-star discussion.

3. Sean Kilpatrick’s 2015-2016 Season Wasn’t A Fluke

After his high-level of play last year, Sean Kilpatrick was not expected to put up the numbers that he did last year. This is simply due to the Nets’ increase in talent from last season to this season.

However, Kilpatrick has embraced his role as the Nets’ sixth-man.

As a matter of fact, Kilpatrick may even be a candidate for the sixth-man of the year award. Now, it is very early to predict this award, however, if Kilpatrick can continue to average 17 points while coming off of the bench as the sixth-man, he should absolutely be a possibility for the award.

Jan 18, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Brooklyn Nets forward Bojan Bogdanovic (44) scores a lay-up against the Toronto Raptors at Air Canada Centre. The Raptors beat the Nets 112-100. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Jan 18, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Brooklyn Nets forward Bojan Bogdanovic (44) scores a lay-up against the Toronto Raptors at Air Canada Centre. The Raptors beat the Nets 112-100. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Player of the Game:

Brook Lopez

C, Brooklyn Nets

A-

Lopez had another one of his elite performances. He managed a team-high 26 points while going up against a very talented defender in Karl-Anthony Towns. While the Nets’ offense is fast paced, when the offense is settled and going through the playbook, Lopez is the go-to-guy in the post when the Nets need a bucket. The one negative from the performance is the obvious: he only had three rebounds. It is horrible for the starting center to play 28 minutes and only notch three rebounds. Anyhow, ignoring the rebounding, Lopez had a great game and was, without a doubt, the MVP of the game.

Wildcard:

Sean Kilpatrick

SG, Brooklyn Nets

B

You have to go with Kilpatrick here. He came off of the bench, once again, and scored 16 points. He is clearly the best player on the Nets bench and is now averaging 17 points on the season. Kilpatrick has been a huge factor off of the Nets bench in his new role as the sixth-man. Why a “B” and not an “A”, you ask? He had six turnovers. It is hard to praise a player who committed six turnovers in a game. However, the scoring does minimize the mistakes, making Kilpatrick the wildcard of the game.

Up Your Game Please…

Bojan Bogdanovic

SG/SF, Brooklyn Nets

C

We will start out with the positive: Bogdanovic hit a huge shot at the end of the game to practically seal the win for the Nets. With the positive out of the way, we can look at the poor performance from Bogdanovic. He had a mere 13 points on the game along with an underwhelming one rebound and two assists. Bogdanovic was almost a non-factor in this game, aside from the clutch three.

With the Nets at 3-4, their next game comes against the New York Knicks, a team that currently sits at 2-4. If the Nets can come away with a win in their upcoming matchup against their rival, they will be at the .500 mark through eight games, a major accomplishment for a team that had such low expectations heading into the season.

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