The Brooklyn Nets lost the game Monday to the Minnesota Timberwolves, but the bigger loss is the injury to leading scorer Caris LeVert.
The Brooklyn Nets entered Monday night’s game against the Minnesota Timberwolves minus center Jarrett Allen, who was a late scratch due to an illness. They left it trying to come to grips with what appeared to be a major injury to leading scorer Caris LeVert.
The 120-113 loss to the Timberwolves is secondary to the season-altering night in Minneapolis with the loss of LeVert for what could be the remainder of the 2018-19 season at a minimum.
So let’s get the less important stuff out of the way.
The cold-shooting Nets were able to stay in the game thanks in part to their work on the offensive glass and in part because of Minnesota’s shoddy ball-handling. Brooklyn outscored the Timberwolves on second-chance points 28-14 and had a 25-12 advantage in points off turnovers.
But they shot just 39.6 percent (40-for-101) on the night, hitting 18-of-50 (36 percent) from 3-point range.
Not having Allen available, coach Kenny Atkinson opted to go small (OK, potentially dwarf-like), starting Rondae Hollis-Jefferson at the center spot. Karl-Anthony Towns ate up that matchup, going 9-for-11 from the floor and finishing with 25 points, 21 rebounds and two blocks.
Towns, however, also committed 10 of Minnesota’s 23 turnovers on the night.
The Nets hung around after halftime, even with the visible emotions shown by players after LeVert went down awkwardly and was carted off with 3.7 seconds left in the second quarter.
Brooklyn took its only lead of the second half on Joe Harris‘ floater with 2:51 to go in the third quarter, but Minnesota responded quickly with a short jumper from Jeff Teague to take the lead back at 80-79.
Allen Crabbe tied the game with a free throw after Taj Gibson was hit with a technical foul, but the Nets turned the ball over three times in their next five possessions, allowing Minnesota to open a 93-85 lead by the end of the period.
D’Angelo Russell led the Nets (6-8) with a season-high 31 points, which included a career-high nine 3-pointers, and had six assists. Ed Davis came off the bench for 14 rebounds — eight on the offensive glass — in 21 minutes and Hollis-Jefferson had 14 points and three steals.
Teague scored 24 points with 11 assists and three steals for the Timberwolves (5-9), who broke a five-game losing streak. Derrick Rose added 23 points and six dimes.
The Nets finished their four-game road trip with a 2-2 mark and return to Barclays Center Wednesday to host the Miami Heat.