November 5, 2013: The Timberwolves rallied from 22 points down to defeat the Brooklyn Nets, 106-97 - it was the fourth largest comeback in franchise history. They became the first visiting team to defeat the Nets at Barclay's Center. The Wolves returned to Brooklyn, Wednesday, but wouldn't need to execute an improbable comeback in order to achieve victory.
Ricky Rubio connected on a three-point shot that extended the Wolves lead during the first quarter, 17-2. The Nets quickly found themselves faced with a double-digit deficit as Nikola Pekovic gave Brook Lopez problems on both ends of the floor. On the offensive end, Pekovic missed three field goal attempts but made four free throws and, more importantly, dictated the tempo of the game.
The Wolves ran the offense through Pekovic, who either took the ball to the rim himself or kicked it back out to the perimeter. There was also a number of times he and Rubio performed pick-and-roll plays. Pekovic played eight-minutes during the opening frame, but, when he was replaced by Gorgui Dieng, the Nets began to mount a comeback by running their offense through Lopez.
Dieng, smaller in stature though lengthier than Pekovic, was less imposing on offense and on defense. He recorded a quick foul, a turnover and a rebound in just three-minutes of playing time in the first quarter. At the end of one, despite undoubtedly playing the best basketball they've played all season for at least six-minutes, the Wolves led the Nets by just three-points.
While the starters looked solid Mo Williams and Anthony Bennett continued to produce off the bench. They accounted for 8 of the Wolves 23 second-quarter points, but it shouldn't go without mention they are both guilty of attempting questionable shots.
Moreover, Flip Saunders paired Corey Brewer with the second unit, and he didn't look that great. In fact, Brewer wasn't very productive at all. He committed two-fouls during the first-half in only seven-minutes of playing time, scoring zero points, grabbing no rebounds and tallying zero assists during that span.
Kevin Martin and Andrew Wiggins started on the wings, and, collectively, scored 19 of the Wolves 47 first-half points. Wiggins had made some eye-opening plays and Martin connected on two, three-point shots, and the game was still within reach. The Nets led by just one-point at halftime, 47-48.
Thus far this season, Wiggins has played his best basketball during the third-quarter of each game. In the first-half he appears to slowly get a feel for things, but after halftime is when Wiggins begins showcasing his renowned athleticism we've all heard so much about. In Brooklyn, he scored eight-points during the third-frame on an efficient three-of-four shooting (including one three pointer). Wiggins could have finished the third with 10 points had he not missed two-of-three free throw attempts.
After falling behind, the Wolves managed to battle from behind to regain the lead heading into the fourth-quarter, 72-66. Wiggins and Martin led all scorers with 17 points apiece.
Deron Williams helped keep the Nets afloat throughout the game. He entered the final frame with 16 points on six-of-nine from the field and four-assists. However, Williams contributed four turnovers during the first three-quarters, although he wasn't the only one costing the Nets valuable possessions.
The Wolves, with less than two minutes remaining in the game, were in decent position to win just as they've been all season. This time, though, they closed the game in an assertive, confident manner and left Barclay's Center with another victory, 98-91.
The starting lineup of Rubio, Martin, Wiggins, Thaddeus Young and Pekovic is pretty good.
Yea. Not bad.
The keys moving forward will be keeping Pekovic healthy and keeping Wiggins on the court. Pekovic has struggled with injuries in the past and has never played more than 60 games in a season. Wiggins is prone to picking up an early foul or two, which results in early substitutions and a hinderance to any rhythm he, or the team, might have going.
Also, Rubio played well.
You might know the person who sent this tweet...
Ricky Rubio: 14 points on 6-11 shooting, 8 rebounds, 12 assists, 2 steals, +26 That's worth $13 million/year
— Key Sang (@Phantele_) November 6, 2014
The Wolves are now 2-2.