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Nets tie season-high in points, defeat Timberwolves 122-106

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Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

Would ya look at that? The Brooklyn Nets defeated the lowly Timberwolves, 122-106, giving them their second straight win after losing five straight. It came with Kevin Garnett sitting out for Minnesota, ruining all hopes of seeing him play against and yet at his former team.

Maybe, just maybe, they need to play teams like the 76ers and Timberwolves on a regular basis. Then they'd have no problem making it to the playoffs!

Anyway...

The Nets led by just four after a 33-point first quarter, but scored 34 points in the second quarter and outscored Minnesota by eight. They finished the half on a 9-0 run to notch their largest lead of the first half, and scored 67 first half points, their most of the season. They shot 59.6% in the half.

In many games this season, the Nets would play well enough early then squander the lead in the second half. They didn't do that against Minnesota. Thankfully.

Brooklyn scored 31 points in the third quarter, which gave them a 98-79 lead heading into the fourth quarter. The game was over earlier than expected and the Brooklyn Nets notched their highest point total through three quarters on the season. It wasn't the only record they set, though.

To add to the heavy offensive performance, the Nets set an NBA season-high and team record for points in the paint with 78. They've averaged 49.2 points in the paint prior to Monday, but better than 53 since acquiring Thaddeus Young at the trade deadline, tops in the NBA.

It was a pretty incredible offensive performance from the guys in black. They were led by Joe Johnson, who set the tone early and scored 22 points, five rebounds, three assists and two steals on 10-of-14 shooting. He wasn't the only only, however.

Brook Lopez finished with 16 points, eight rebounds, one steal and one blocked shot on 7-of-8 shooting. Lopez grabbed six offensive rebounds, which makes it his eighth game since the All-Star break where he's grabbed five or more offensive rebounds. Eight times in 13 games! He did the same just twice in 42 games prior to the break.

And finally last but not least Bojan Bogdanovic scored 21 points on 10-of-15 shooting in 27 minutes. His point total was one short of his career-high and both his shots and makes were career highs. The newly aggressive Bogdanovic is averaging nine points and shooting better than 45 percent from deep in March.

Joe Johnson was 10-of-14 and Brook Lopez 7-of-8. The Nets were 51-of-88. Talk about efficient.

Kevin Martin led the eight-man Timberwolves squad with 23 points in 32 minutes. Slam Dunk champ, Zach LaVine, scored 18. It wasn't nearly enough.

Lionel Hollins explained the post-deadline transformation of his team this way...

"I think the way we’ve changed the lineup from two bigs to one big spreads the court, and we’ve been able to get to the rim because of that," said the coach.

He also talked about how Minnesota has embraced Garnett in his return ... and the value of the deadline deal trade to both teams.

"It’s deserving. He should have that opportunity if that’s what he wanted," Hollins said. "I have no grudges of that. He was at the stage when he was playing 15 or 18 minutes a game for us, so we were able to get a player back, Thaddeus, that’s younger and can help us going forward. So it worked out for both of us. He got to go home and spend a couple years here and maybe move in the front office, maybe be an owner. And we get a younger player to go forward."

The Nets are winners of two straight games and officially trail by two games in the loss column to the Indiana Pacers for the eighth seed. They'll face off against the Cleveland Cavaliers this Wednesday night. They'll need more games like this to rest the starters while winning games, especially with 17 games left and a playoff push in the making.

Quarter by quarter:

First quarter ... The Nets had no shortage of points in the first quarter, but looked lackadaisical on the defensive side of the ball. They scored 33 points in the opening quarter on close to 56% shooting, but allowed Minnesota to shoot  50% and score 29 points in the quarter. Joe Johnson looked rested with 11 points, but Zach LaVine overshadowed him with 14 points. The Nets led, 33-29.

Second quarter ... The Nets set a season-high for points in a half with 67 as they worked their way to a 12-point lead after a 9-0 run to finish out the quarter. Brooklyn made the most of the wide open paint as they scored 40 of their 67 points down low. They struggled to pull ahead, but 12 points from Bojan Bogdanovic helped them start to run away with it just before the half. They shot 59.6% from the field and turned the ball over just three times.

Score at the half: Nets 67, Wolves 55.

Third quarter ... This game was over by quarter's end. The Nets had a 98-79 lead -- the highest amount of points they've scored through three quarters all season. They scored 31 points in the quarter and followed the leader in Joe Johnson who had 22 points through the three.

In came the backup unit for Brooklyn. Finally we can say that as a good thing.

Fourth quarter ... Hollins emptied the bench as mentioned and the Nets cruised to the finish line. They didn't show any signs of letting up and finished the game with a double-digit victory.

Final score: Nets 122, Wolves 106.

Hey Nets fans -- with the win, you get 50% off with the promo code NETSWIN at papajohns.com