Timberwolves-Nets Preview

Although strong defense has keyed their success at home, the Brooklyn Nets could be tested by Kevin Love and a Minnesota Timberwolves team coming off a historic offensive showing.

Brooklyn hopes to keep closing in on home-court advantage for at least the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs by matching a franchise record with a 13th straight home victory Sunday night.

The Nets (38-33) continued to shut down opponents on their own floor Friday, bouncing back from a two-game road skid by limiting Cleveland to 42.5 percent shooting in a 108-97 win.

Brooklyn hasn’t given up 100 points in 11 consecutive home games, holding opponents to 91.6 points and 43.4 percent shooting in that span.

The Nets have won 19 of their last 21 at home and are an East-best 28-12 overall since Jan. 1.

”It sure beats us getting booed earlier in the year,” said Paul Pierce, who scored 17 of his 22 points in the first quarter Friday. ”So we’re playing well here. We feel comfortable on our home turf.”

Three of the next four games are at the Barclays Center for the Nets, who are eyeing home court for at least the first round. They’re 2 1/2 games behind Toronto for first place in the Atlantic Division and 1 1/2 behind Chicago for the No. 4 spot in the East.

Brooklyn can equal the franchise record for consecutive home wins, set in 2001-02 and matched the following season, if it can avoid a third straight home loss to Minnesota.

The Nets might have their hands full again with the Timberwolves (36-35), who set a team mark for points in a 143-107 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday. Minnesota has averaged 115.2 points in the last six games, though it’s all but assured of missing the postseason for the 10th year in a row.

Love had 22 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists for his second career triple-double, while Nikola Pekovic scored 26 and shot 9 of 10 in his first game back from an ankle injury.

”Even with the team (the Lakers) have now, it’s still nice to beat a team that’s been a heavyweight for a very long time,” said Love, who has scored 29.4 per game in his last 11 on the road.

The All-Star forward scored just 17 points but had 16 rebounds – six offensive – to help Minnesota cruise to a 111-81 home victory over the Nets on Nov. 22. Brooklyn shot 39.7 percent from the field while playing without Deron Williams, who has averaged 21.1 points and 12.1 assists in his last 10 meetings dating to his time with Utah.

Williams finished with 18 points and 13 assists in the most recent meeting in Brooklyn on Nov. 5, 2012, but Pekovic scored 21 to lead the Timberwolves to a 107-96 win.

The Nets have been accurate from 3-point range in the last two games, going 31 of 66. The Timberwolves, however, have held opponents to 14-of-53 (26.4 percent) from beyond the arc in their two straight victories.

Brooklyn may again be without former Minnesota forwards Kevin Garnett and Andrei Kirilenko due to back and ankle injuries, respectively.