Nets beat Wolves in 1st matchup since Garnett trade
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) The absence of old teammate Kevin Garnett made it that much easier for the Brooklyn Nets to make history against the short-handed Minnesota Timberwolves.
Joe Johnson scored 22 points, rookie Bojan Bogdanovic had 21 and the Nets set a franchise record with 78 points in the paint in a 122-106 win on Monday night.
''As I've said before, since the All-Star break we're leading the league in points in the paint,'' Nets coach Lionel Hollins said. ''We found something in the pick-and-roll that was really good. We exploited it. We executed it to perfection.''
The Nets shot 57.8 percent from the floor and made nearly 70 percent of their shots in the paint (39 of 56).
''It's men against boys right now,'' Minnesota coach Flip Saunders said. ''They've got an All-Star in (Deron) Williams, an All-Star in Joe Johnson, and an All-Star in Brook Lopez, and those guys . for the first three quarters pretty much dominated their respective positions.''
Thaddeus Young chipped in 19 for the Nets in his first game against Minnesota since being dealt to Brooklyn for Garnett at the trade deadline.
''Us coming out, getting me going, getting guys driving to the paint and making plays for other guys and getting Brook going, if we can do those type of things each and every game, we'll be fine,'' Young said.
Kevin Martin scored 23 points and Zack LaVine added 20 for the Timberwolves, who had just eight healthy players and were missing three starters due to injury.
Garnett sat out with a sore left knee.
''We can't practice because we've only got eight guys, and the guys are so tired you're trying to get them some rest time,'' said Saunders, whose team gave up 123 points Sunday night in San Antonio.
''It's a man's league. At some point you're going to have to stand your ground. . You're going to have to learn how to play. If you get your butts kicked, sometimes that's part of growing up.''
The Nets closed a competitive first half on a 17-4 run to take a 67-55 lead into the break.
Minnesota took its only lead of the night on a short runner by rookie Adreian Payne that made it 51-50 with 4:31 to play in the first half. But Bogdanovic answered with two quick baskets and Young converted down low to restore the Nets' cushion.
Later, Lopez hit back-to-back baskets down low and added a free throw to help push Brooklyn's lead into double figures for the first time.
LaVine hit three 3-pointers in the first quarter, and the NBA slam dunk contest champion briefly electrified the crowd with a vicious slam in transition midway through the third quarter.
The Nets, who entered play three games out of the eighth playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, won their second straight following a five-game losing streak.
Nets: Lopez became the sixth Nets player to score 7,000 points with the franchise since it joined the NBA. He finished the night with 16 points and eight rebounds. ... Young played 48 games with the Timberwolves before he was traded on Feb. 19. . Johnson said he was glad to see Garnett for the first time since the trade. ''I've learned a lot from the dude just in the year and a half,'' Johnson said. ''I really appreciate all he's done for me.''
Timberwolves: Besides Garnett, G Ricky Rubio (sore right ankle), C Nikola Pekovic (sore right ankle) and G Gary Neal (illness) all were sidelined. Garnett missed his fifth straight game, and Saunders said he was scheduled to have the knee re-evaluated on Monday night. ... The Timberwolves used their 25th different starting lineup of the season, one shy of the franchise record. . Brooklyn's 78 points in the paint were the second-most allowed by the Timberwolves in their franchise history.
HERE'S HOW IT'S DONE
Midway through the fourth quarter, Wolves rookie Justin Hamilton came up short on a dunk attempt. Fellow rookie Andrew Wiggins grabbed the rebound and tried to dunk it, but that one rattled out, too. Finally, Nets rookie Bogdanovic scooped up the loose ball, raced down the court and threw it down in traffic.
Nets: Visit Cleveland on Wednesday.
Timberwolves: Visit Toronto on Wednesday.