These are the kinds of games the Nets will have to get used to.
Rough, ugly and grueling performances have become part of the fabric of identity the Nets must embrace if they’re going to salvage the second half of what was once a championship-hopeful season.
That’s what it took to get back on track and clinch a 124-123 overtime victory over Anthony Edwards and the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday.
( Nets starters rested well for Friday’s game in Minnesota )
“Going into a hostile environment against a good Western conference opponent is a testament to our mental toughness,” starting point guard Spencer Dinwiddie said in his postgame interview.
It’s the fifth time the Nets have recovered from double digits to create a one-possession game down the stretch since the trade deadline.
And in the end, it was defense, not shooting, that won a game down the stretch.
The Nets denied Edwards a chance to shoot on the final possession of overtime. Late in the fourth quarter, the Nets pulled off back-to-back stops on Edwards, first a strip steal from Spencer Dinwiddie, then tough competition on a running floater on the game’s final possessions, before losing to Naz Reid, who hit a bunt on the ball. horn at three to tie the game at 114 and send it into overtime.
Defense was the common thread of a Nets team that fell into a 12-point hole in the second quarter. The Nets held the Wolves to just 20 points in the third quarter.
It was an impressive performance from a Nets team whose bench scored an all-time 98 points in a late rally that came up short against the Bucks the night before.
Head coach Jacque Vaughn sat out nearly every key player in the rotation against the Bucks on Thursday. Jacque Vaughn sat out Spencer Dinwiddie, Cam Johnson, Dorian Finney-Smith against the Bucks. Mikal Bridges only played the first quarter against the Bucks before playing 47 of a possible 53 minutes against the Timberwolves on Friday.
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Bridges scored a game-high 34 points and shot 13-of-24 from the field and 4-of-8 from center. He passed Edwards, who finished with 32 points on 12-of-26 shooting and fought his shots down the stretch.
Cam Johnson added 15 points and briefly left the game after taking an elbow to the face. Seven different Nets, including all five starters, have scored in double figures.
Dinwiddie played one of his best games this time with the Nets jersey. He created Brooklyn’s last two baskets in overtime with triple drive and kick: first he found Bridges on a three-pointer to tie the game at 121 apiece, then delivered a penny to Finney-Smith, who was wide open in the corner for the seen. Well. triple.
The Nets then knocked the ball out of Edwards’ hands on the final possession of the game.
Wolves veteran guard Mike Conley blocked his side step three at the horn.
The Nets have now won four of their last five games and travel to Denver on Sunday to take on reigning MVP Nikola Jokic and a Nuggets team expected to exit the Western Conference as championship contenders.
( Meet ‘The Twins’: New Nets Mikal Bridges and Cam Johnson expected Kevin Durant trade to happen )
After struggling on the road, the Nets have won three of their last four games in opponent territory.