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Nets 110, Wolves 105: Heartbreaking, Encouraging Knight in Brooklyn

A shorthanded Wolves team took the best team in the East down to the wire, but came up just short in the end.

The Lede

I don’t like to use the term moral victory, especially when you commit six turnovers in the first three and a half minutes of the game. But tonight was about as close to a moral victory as you could possibly get from the Minnesota Timberwolves. Especially with a rare lackluster effort from its best player that played tonight.

“I didn’t put forth a winning effort at all” Anthony Edwards said after the game. “Put it all on me, put [this game] on me.”

While Edwards finished with 19 points on 43% shooting, she shot 1-7 from three and accounted for over half of the team’s 15 turnovers with eight on his own.

I’ll cut to the chase - the Timberwolves took the best-in-the-East Brooklyn Nets down to the final 30 seconds on the road without Karl-Anthony Towns, Patrick Beverley, and Jaden McDaniels, and again, without a particularly good performance from Edwards. What does that mean? The bench stepped up, played hard, and found solid contributions across the board.

Defensive Specialist D’Angelo Russell?

Russell shot poorly but was brilliant passing and playmaking. He made great passes to cutters and finished up with 11 assists.

But Russell made smart plays on the defensive end. He was often the help defense or the double that was brought to Durant, and was legitimate in his approach. He drew a couple major offensive fouls late in the game that were incredibly crucial in the Wolves bringing it down to the wire. It’s so cool to see his “give-a-shit” factor (- Chris Finch) higher this year.

Kevin Durant is good at basketball.

The only person that can effectively guard Kevin Durant is the rim and himself. I think the Wolves schemed and played him just about as well as you can, and he still poured in 30 quiet points and supplemented it with 10 boards.

The Wolves kept throwing bodies at him and making shots difficult. An unfortunate symptom of that was getting him to the line.

I was nervous going into tonight that KD would completely bury the Wolves. He eventually did with 11 seconds left, but I loved the game plan. I don’t LOVE +/-, but it’s an interesting stat. Durant finished at a 0 (ZERO). If Patty Mills doesn’t go unconscious, we’re talking about how brilliant Chris Finch and Elston Turner were at keeping KD in check (again, weird saying that when he scores 30).

Naz Reid.

Unbelievable night from Reid given the circumstances. KAT didn’t know if he was going or not until after shootaround (at least, that’s what we were told). He stepped in for the hobbled Towns and got off to a hot start that set the tone for the night. I still struggle with the question on if Naz is a starting-caliber NBA center. I think he proved tonight that he is, as long as he’s the fourth or fifth best player in the lineup.

Nathan Knight? Huh?

Early candidate for this year’s Jaden McDaniels or Jarred Vanderbilt. You know, the player that starts off the year as a bench afterthought and proves worth when given minutes.

“I feel like he’s needed” Edwards said. Finch echoed and emphasized that Knight is an NBA player.

I think he’s a small rotation player, and proved to be a much-needed energy and rebounding presence. Perhaps in the future he can bring size and the aforementioned ability to rebound the ball late in games when the team is struggling. Perhaps in a game like, uh, I don’t know. The previous one?

Would love to see him get more clock. I just hope he works on the fact that he gives me a near-heart attack every time he shoots a free throw.

Malik Beasley can be frustrating.

I felt the exact opposite going into the last two minutes of the game. I thought Beasley rushed possessions and took hasty shots.

Finch questioned this idea postgame, but after the first miss, it would have been nice to see the ball change hands down a possession. Russell did not have a great game shooting the ball, but it would be nice to see the ball find his hands in that situation at least once.

Up Next:

It won’t get any easier, but KAT probably returning could help. Timberwolves will host the Hawks on Monday night, in what is sure to be a Nathan Knight revenge game.

Game Highlights