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Nets look to stop the bleeding in Minnesota

Minnesota Timberwolves v Portland Trail Blazers Photo by Cameron Browne/NBAE via Getty Images

What’s worse than playing a back-to-back starting in Milwaukee and ending in Minnesota in the winter? Losing in Milwaukee by 25 before leaving for Minnesota.

The Nets are limping into the back end of two straight, and their last game before returning to New York. The away games will continue against the Knicks at The Garden on Tuesday. Then it’s back to Barclays Center.

The Nets enter Target Center 18-31, 8-16 on the road and 5-8 this month, riding two straight losses into the North Star State. One of their five wins came on January 3 against these same Timberwolves, who are 31-20, 8-6 this month. Like the Nets, they’ve lost back-to-back contests.

Where to follow the game

YES Network on TV. WFAN 101.9 FM on radio. Tip off after 9 PM.


Rondae Hollis Jefferson had an early exit from Milwaukee. After netting five points in 13 minutes, The Hyphen left with a right groin strain and did not return. He will be OUT for Saturday’s game.

UPDATE: Announced around 2 p.m., D’Angelo Russell is out due to ‘return from injury management.’ A.k.a., it’s how the Nets operate.

Isaiah Whitehead was recalled by Brooklyn early Saturday morning and will be available for tonight’s game against Minnesota, along with two-way James Webb III, who may make his NBA debut tonight. Two-way Milton Doyle will remain with Long Island, and Jeremy Lin is out.

For the Wolves, Jimmy Butler has missed four straight games with a sore right knee, and his status is uncertain.

The game

So, D’Angelo Russell kind of had that game … kind of, but not really.

The 6-foot-5 former Ohio State Buckeye has made some (key word) progress upon returning from injury last week. Friday night, he looked good in spurts, and bad in others.

Russell scored 14 points, tying a team-high with DeMarre Carroll, in only 21 minutes, converting 6-of-14 —42.9 percent to do it— but had seven turnovers. His point output has grown over the 5-game stretch since he’s returned from one to three to seven and now 14, but one turnover every 3 minutes is Eli Manning-like for all the wrong reasons.

Got to give it time, but it’s getting there, little by little.

Other than that, Friday was pretty non-descript on the Nets side of the box score. Joe Harris (11 points, 3-of-4 from downtown) continued his three-party. He’s shooting 54.7 percent for the month. Jarrett Allen (12 points, 6 rebounds in 20 minutes) showed flashes and efficiency, while … yeah nothing else happened.

Spencer Dinwiddie (9 points, three assists in 24 minutes), Caris LeVert (four points, nine rebounds, four assists in 29 minutes) and Quincy Acy (no points, four rebounds in 22 minutes) … I mean, yeah, nothing else happened.

The Wolves had a day off yesterday after losing 126-113 to the Golden State Warriors without the aforementioned Butler. Karl Anthony-Towns had 31 points, 11 rebounds and 5 assists, while Jamal Crawford poured on 21 points off the bench.

Andrew Wiggins struggled for 10 points, shooting only 4-of-18 from the field.

In the Nets win over the Wolves on January 3, Brooklyn was led by Spencer Dinwiddie (26 points, nine assists and the game-winner), while Butler had 30 for Minnesota on only 17 shots. Although Towns had 16 points and 10 boards, it took him 40 minutes.

Player to watch: Jeff Teague

The Wolves were without Jeff Teague in that January loss, and will have him on Saturday.

Teague has had some history with Brooklyn, especially in the 2015 NBA Playoffs, and he even had two of his best 2016-17 showings against the Nets while with the Indiana Pacers. Last January he dropped 21 points and 15 assists in a 12-point win over Brooklyn, and one month later he recorded 24 points and dished out 7 dimes in another victory.

On January 10, Teague came back from a knee injury, which sidelined him for about 2 weeks. Since then, his numbers haven’t been great overall (14 points and 6 assists per on 40% shooting), but he did drop 30 points while opposite the Los Angeles Clippers on January 22, the start of a three-game stretch where he’s posting 20.7 points and 5.3 assists per game.

In Teague’s absence, Minnesota went to battle with Tyus Jones at the helm. Jeff Teague is no Tyus Jones. And off a back-to-back, a possibly already fatigued (we presume) Dinwiddie may have his hands full.

From the Vault

Target Center was the scene of a rookie showdown between the first and second overall picks of the 2015 Draft on December 9, 2015, those selections being Towns and Russell.

The two combined for 49 points. Towns ended a huge night with 26 points, 14 rebounds and 3 blocks while Russell finished with 23 points and had 3 assists.

More reading at Canis Hoops.