What’s better to have in the NBA – youth or experience? Probably depends on the talent. The Brooklyn Nets have guys who used to be great, but not so much anymore. They allowed the Minnesota Timberwolves to slip away with a 98-91 road win, scoring the final nine points of the game in a very enjoyable performance from one of the most fun to watch teams in the league.
Nikola Perkovic broke the deadlock with a three-point play, leaving 48 seconds on the clock before the Timberwolves finished the job against a Nets team that often seems a bit too stuck and slow on offense to cope with certain kinds of pressure. The Timberwolves aren’t even remotely close to being the best team in the NBA on both ends of the floor, but the addition of Andrew Wiggins brings with it more pressure on the perimeter they were missing last season and there’s a different gear to this team when the starting lineup is on the floor together.
The Nets got away with keeping this game close when the Timberwolves starters were on the bench. All five Minnesota lineup players had at least a +20 during their minutes on the floor. They all shot in double figures as well, while the bench unit almost cost them the game. The opposite was true for the Nets, struggling when their “best” players were on the floor. Things were especially bad during the minutes of Kevin Garnett with a -21 in his 25 minutes, scoring just two points on 1-of-7 from the field.
Kevin Martin led the Timberwolves with 26 points, immensely enjoying being a number one scoring option again. He’s averaging 23.7 points per game, feeling like he’s back in Sacramento or Houston, not having to worry to much about sharing the ball. Spreading it around? That’s Ricky Rubio’s job, dishing out 12 assists, scoring 14 points and missing the triple double by two rebounds. Andrew Wiggins had his best game for the team with 17 points, Nikola Pekovic and Thaddeus Young each had a double double; the Timberwolves can beat anyone as long as they don’t dig deep into their bench too much.
Joe Johnson scored 22 for the Nets, Deron Williams had 19. The rest of the players? Brook Lopez with 10 points, and when your most important offensive player can’t find his way around a very suspect rim protection unit, you’re not going to walk away with too many wins. The Nets actually shot better than the Timberwolves (43.9% to 41.1%), but turned the ball over seven more times and most importantly, were stunned and stagnated in the final minute of the game.
Both teams are at 2-2, but with a very different feeling. The Nets are squeezing out the final bits of juiciness from whatever it is they built, which isn’t going to last for long. The Timberwolves took a step back in order to move forward during the summer, and although it should involve a lot of growing pains, they probably will come out of it as a better team, with a very bright future ahead of them.