Wolves end slump with 120-113 victory over Brooklyn
The trade was done and Jimmy Butler was gone, traded away. But the new faces Robert Covington, Jarryd Bayless and Dario Saric - had not officially arrived as the Wolves tipped off Monday night against Brooklyn in a quiet Target Center awash in empty blue seats.
It was quiet, especially early. Quiet enough that the occasional opinion on the teams current state could be heard coming out of the stands.
Despite a game that was tight throughout, with neither team even holding a double-digit lead until late in the third quarter, the entire night was strangely subdued.
In a holding pattern waiting for the new roster to coalesce, the Wolves ended their five-game losing streak with a 120-113 victory over Brooklyn, one that improved their home record to 5-1 this season.
With an eight-point lead whittled to one in the fourth quarter, three-pointers from Anthony Tolliver and Josh Okogie spurred the Wolves (5-9) to victory on a night when all five starters scored in double figures.
Karl-Anthony Towns led the way with 25 points and 21 rebounds (and ten turnovers). Jeff Teague returned after missing six games with a knee injury to score 24 points with 11 assists. Derrick Rose had 23 points and six assists. Taj Gibson scored 17 and Andrew Wiggins had 13.
DAngelo Russell hit nine of 15 three pointers on the way to 31 points.
Nets guard Caris LeVert left the game in the closing seconds of the first half after sustaining what appeared to be a severe injury to his right leg; he left the Target Center floor in a wheelchair. Some of his Nets teammates were in tears while members of the Wolves huddled in prayer as LeVert was being treated.
After going 0-5 on their recently-completed road trip the Wolves are 0-8 on the road this season it was a good start to a stretch in which the Wolves will play five straight and 10 of their next 12 at home.
Teague scored nine points with three assists and the Wolves shot 48 percent while scoring 30 points in the first quarter.
And they trailed when it ended, for many familiar reasons.
The Wolves struggled to hold onto the ball and didnt do a good job defending the perimeter. The result: Brooklyn scored seven points off five Wolves turnovers and made five of 10 three-pointers with Russell hitting three of four while taking a 31-30 lead.
Three Nets players hit a trey in the quarter, which the Nets ended on a 7-2 run.
For much of the second quarter the Wolves did a good job on the initial shot, but continued to be bedeviled by the Nets offensive rebounding.
The Nets had 16 second-chance points and 12 points off Wolves turnovers in the first half. But the Wolves finished the half on a9-0 run, building a 57-53 halftime lead.
The Wolves trailed 53-48 before six players scored in the final run, Derrick Rose leading the way with four. Teague scored, then Rose, then Taj Gibson off a feed from Towns. Towns had a follow-up dunk in the run as well. The Nets who shot just 9-for-29 overall in the second quarter, 3-for-15 on three-pointers were fortunate to trail by just four at the half.
The game was tied at 80 when the Wolves finished the third quarter strong, on a 13-5 run.
It included four points by Wiggins, four by Teague and a corner three-pointer by Gorgui Dieng, and it gave the Wolves a 93-85 lead entering the fourth.