Road Reaction: Timberwolves 98, Nets 91
In what may have been one of his final games against the team that drafted him, former Timberwolves All-Star Kevin Garnett took a backseat to Minnesota’s next potential franchise changer.
Garnett’s team, meanwhile, wilted late in a game that evens Minnesota’s record at 2-2.
Andrew Wiggins, this year’s No. 1 overall draft pick, had the first prodigious game of his young NBA career. Garnett, meanwhile, went just 1 for 7 for two points and 11 boards. The 38-year-old former protege of current Wolves coach Flip Saunders is on the last year of his contract, though it’s unclear whether he’ll retire after the year or not.
Reigning playoff participant Brooklyn (2-2) erased an early 17-2 deficit and led by as many as six with 6:02 left in the game. But Minnesota closed on a 9-0 run, opening up a lengthy away swing with its first road win of the season.
That caused most of the 16,302 fans at the Barclays Center to head for the exits disappointed.
1 big moment: After center Nikola Pekovic (16 points, 11 rebounds) followed up Ricky Rubio’s driving layup with a 3-point play against Robin Lopez, the Nets big man fouled Rubio (14 points, 12 assists, eight rebounds) off the ball on an ensuing in-bound play. That set up Thaddeus Young’s floater that made it 96-91 with 27.2 seconds to go, and Brooklyn never threatened after that.
2 top performers: Wiggins made 7 of 12 field-goal attempts for a career-best 17 points and added four rebounds, a block and an assist. Perhaps even more valuable — at least as a learning experience for the 19-year-old rookie — he guarded volume-scoring veteran Joe Johnson all night. The 15th-year veteran scored a team-best 22 points, but Wiggins stuck with him and showed signs of a player that, once he adds some more muscle, can be an elite NBA defender. He even altered a Johnson attempt that would’ve cut Minnesota’s lead back to one possession with more than 15 seconds remaining.
Johnson was his usual self for Brooklyn, going 9 for 17 from the floor and pulling up in the face of sound Wiggins defense to knock down a handful of trademark jumpers. But the usual clutch master missed his final two field-goal attempts inside the final 30 seconds.
3 key stats: The Wolves continue to be efficient coming out of halftime after outscoring Brooklyn 25-18 in the third quarter. Through four games, Minnesota’s 59.7-percent field-goal clip in the third quarter leads the NBA, and its 29.7-point average in the frame is second behind Boston.
Playing his second game since Dec. 20, 2013, Lopez — who missed most of last season with a broken foot — had a rough night in all aspects. He missed 7 of his first 8 attempts from the floor and finished 5 of 14 with 10 points and five boards.
It wasn’t as efficient as his 9-for-14, 33-point showing in Saturday’s loss to Chicago, but shooting guard Kevin Martin changed the game again with a night’s-best 26 points, including 4 of 9 3-point tries. The last put Minnesota on top 89-88 with 2 minutes, 10 seconds left.
Said: "He’s the ultimate competitor. Everybody knows I have a special relationship with him, and I love to watch him play. Whenever you play against him it’s like playing against your son, in some aspects." — Flip Saunders on Kevin Garnett, whom Saunders coached in Minnesota from 1995-2007
Seen: Anthony Bennett’s emphatic, two-handed slam over Mason Plumlee made it 36-33 Brooklyn with 5:35 left in the second quarter.
Next: Minnesota has Thursday to rest before continuing a six-game road trip with a back-to-back in Florida. The Wolves play at Orlando at 6 p.m. Friday and at Miami at 6:30 p.m. Saturday.
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