Nets looking for offensive surge against short-handed Timberwolves

NBA Basketball
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The Brooklyn Nets have hit a lull in an offense that had been fairly effective without injured starters Kyrie Irving and Caris LeVert.

After being held under 100 points in consecutive games for the first time this season, the Nets hope to get it going again Monday night when they visit the slumping Minnesota Timberwolves.

The Timberwolves are on a nine-game home losing streak and could be without Karl-Anthony Towns again due to a left knee sprain.

The Nets are a respectable 12-8 since losing Irving to right shoulder impingement and 12-10 since losing LeVert to right thumb surgery. Irving was averaging 28.5 points in his first 11 games and scored 50 points in the season-opening overtime loss to Minnesota on Oct. 23, while LeVert was averaging 16.8 points before getting sidelined.

Irving’s return is not imminent but LeVert appears close to returning as he is with the team on its three-game road trip.

Since Irving’s last game, the Nets are averaging 107 points but over the last four contests, which include three losses, Brooklyn is averaging 101.8 points on 39.4 percent shooting and 27.1 percent shooting from 3-point range.

The Nets are coming off two of their worst offensive showings of the season. They shot 26.9 percent — the third-lowest percentage in franchise history — in a 94-82 home loss to the New York Knicks on Thursday and then followed it up with Saturday’s 108-98 loss in Houston where they trailed by 22 after the first quarter and shot 40.2 percent.

“I don’t feel like we’re playing very well,” Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said. “That’s the second game in a row where I feel like we’re out of sync. I don’t know what it is, we’re not in rhythm right now.”

Spencer Dinwiddie led the Nets with 17 points against the Rockets but is 11 for 35 from the floor in his last two games since his 39-point game Dec. 21 against Atlanta. Taurean Prince added 16 but is shooting 28 percent (29 for 105) in his last nine games. Also struggling is Garrett Temple. Excluding his 25 points on 10-of-19 shooting against Atlanta, Temple is 7 for 45 in four games.

The Nets are hoping to avoid being held under 100 points in a third straight game for the first time since Jan. 26-30, 2018.

Minnesota enters with one win in its last 13 games and is winless at home since beating San Antonio on Nov. 13. The Wolves’ average margin of defeat in their home skid is 10.1 points.

The Wolves halted an 11-game losing streak with Thursday’s double-overtime win at Sacramento but took a 94-88 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Saturday. Minnesota forced a team-record 29 turnovers but negated it by shooting 35.5 percent from the field.

Towns was listed as questionable but wound up sitting out for a sixth straight game and was joined by Andrew Wiggins, who sat out due to an illness.

Without Towns, the Wolves allowed 61 rebounds and if he sits again, Gorgui Dieng would be the starting center. Dieng averaged 15.6 points on 49 percent shooting in the first five games of Towns’ absence but was held to five points Saturday.

“It’s going to look different when you don’t have your two best players,” Wolves coach Ryan Saunders said. “That’s normal. When you’re missing two big pieces like that, you need guys to step up. “

If Towns and Wiggins are out again Monday, the Wolves will be hoping for more than 38 points from a starting lineup of Treveon Graham and Shabazz Napier along with rookie Jarrett Culver, Robert Covington and Dieng.

–Field Level Media

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