MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – Down two stars, down on the scoreboard and down on their luck, the Minnesota Timberwolves found a way.
Shabazz Napier scored a season-high 24 points, Jarrett Culver added a career-high 21 and the short-handed Timberwolves rallied past the Brooklyn Nets 122-115 in overtime Monday night.
“It was a good win,” Minnesota’s Gorgui Dieng said. “How we played with that energy. We didn’t quit when we was down, and we come out with a victory.”
The Timberwolves had lost 12 of 13 and were again without injured Karl-Anthony Towns and ill Andrew Wiggins. In their absence, Dieng had 11 points and 20 rebounds, while rookies Culver and Naz Reid had career highs in points and rebounds.
Culver played 39 minutes, while Reid scored 13 points in 20 minutes.
Keita Bates-Diop added 15 points off the bench.
“That was a heart game,” Timberwolves coach Ryan Saunders said. “They knew there were going to be opportunities tonight, and guys took advantage of it. I think there were a number of things that you can point to that have to make you feel good.”
Spencer Dinwiddie scored 36 points to lead the Nets, who have lost three straight. Joe Harris scored 19 points.
Dinwiddie has scored at least 20 points in 18 of the 21 games he’s started in place of injured Kyrie Irving.
“We didn’t defend well enough,” Dinwiddie said. “We could have made plays here to win in regulation, but did our job defensively since they only had 103 points. Them scoring basically 20 points in the OT, it’s only a five-minute stretch. That’s not near good enough.”
The Wolves led only once in the first three quarters. A 7-0 run in the closing minutes was capped by Dieng’s 3-pointer from the corner that gave them the lead at 103-101 with 36.3 seconds remaining in regulation.
Taurean Prince’s basket tied it at 103-103 with 26.9 seconds left and set up the overtime finish.
Robert Covington and Kelan Martin hit key 3-pointers in overtime for the Timberwolves. Covington’s 3 with 3:15 to play gave them the lead for good. Napier scored eight points in overtime.
“It was just an unacceptable performance by us,” Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said. “We were lucky to get to overtime, quite honestly. Even at halftime, I felt like we were just not playing at a high level. We’re not playing up to Nets standards. Hard to figure out why. I didn’t think it was an overtime game. I thought they outplayed us.”
Minnesota won at home for the first time since Nov. 13, snapping a nine-game skid in Minneapolis.
Nets: Irving (right shoulder impingement) missed his 21st straight game. Caris LeVert (right thumb surgery) was out for the 22nd consecutive game. The Nets also were without Nicolas Claxton (left hamstring soreness) and David Nwaba (right Achilles tendon tear).
Timberwolves: Towns (left knee sprain) missed his seventh consecutive game. Wiggins (flu-like symptoms) missed his second. Treveon Graham also missed the game with illness. Jake Layman (left toe sprain) was out for the 18th game in a row. Noah Vonleah (left gluteal contusion) was a late scratch.
NO TIME TO PREPARE
Reid, who has spent most of this season with Iowa of the G League, said he found out around 3 p.m. he was needed in Minnesota that night. He got the first flight he could out of Des Moines and arrived shortly before the game. In his third career NBA game, he played a career-high 20 minutes.
“The biggest thing was just stay ready,” Reid said. “So that’s what I did.”
Nets: At Dallas on Thursday. It’s the first meeting of the two teams this season.
Timberwolves: At Milwaukee on Wednesday. The Bucks have won eight of the past 10 meetings.
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