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Takeaways: Nets conclude preseason with wire-to-wire win over Timberwolves

Brooklyn Nets v Minnesota Timberwolves Photo by Jordan Johnson/NBAE via Getty Images

The Nets completed their four-game preseason slate Friday night by breezing past the Timberwolves, 112-102 at the Target Center. The wire-to-wire win marked their second consecutive preseason dub, but the performance wasn’t about the final score. It was about stacking the building blocks on both ends of the hardwood, piece by piece.

Brooklyn’s offense flourished throughout the contest with some minor rough patches along the way. Just as they did Wednesday vs. the Bucks, the Nets lead reached 19 points in the third quarter.

More than anything, it was about their defense against a team that bills itself as a Western Conference contender. The Nets showed that despite missing a handful of their key players — Joe Harris (foot soreness), Seth Curry (ankle rehab), Edmond Sumner (hip strain), and TJ Warren (foot rehab) — the team has the depth to patch wounds.

The preseason finale for Ben Simmons was a short and unexpectedly so. It’s not common to see a player foul out in a preseason contest, let alone before the fourth quarter begins. The 26-year-old fell victim to some questionable calls and fouled out in just 13 minutes of action. He concluded his preseason shift with two points (1-of-3 shooting from the field) to pair with six assists and two boards. He also finished with a +15 in +/- rating.

Simmons having his night cut short due to foul trouble didn’t diminish Brooklyn’s offensive production — 42.0 percent shooting from the field / 40.0 percent from 3-Point range — from the starters to the bench. Kevin Durant piled up a quiet yet dominant 20 points, six assists, two rebounds, a steal, and three rejections in 31 minutes. Kyrie Irving led the scoring barrage with 26 points to go with four assists, a board, and three steals in 30 minutes.

Outside of the new “Big Three,” Royce O’Neale — who is proving his case as a starter — ended with 11 points, four assists, and eight rebounds. Day’Ron Sharpe recorded a double-double off the bench with 15 points and a game-high 13 rebounds. Cam Thomas followed the bench production with 11 points in 22 minutes and served as playmaker, dished two neat assists and a block. He did turn the ball over five times.

“I think you could feel us improving, turning a little bit of a corner,” said Steve Nash. “I I feel really good about the group’s energy right now. They’re playing hard, they’re playing together.”

For Minnesota, it was the beginning of their big experiment upfront, the pairing of Rudy Gobert with Karl-Anthony Towns in sort of a Twin Towers setting. For the night, Towns who was Ben Simmons charge early, finished with 15 points and nine rebounds but shot 4-of-12 overall and 1-of-6 from deep. Gobert hit all six of his shots and finished with 16 points and eight rebounds. Neither had a block. D’Angelo Russell was high man with 17, shooting 7-of-13 and 2-of-5 while handing out six assists — and turning the ball over an equal number of times — in 27 minutes.

The Nets and TWolves were tied in rebounds at 46 and Brooklyn had one fewer turnover, 15, than Minnesota. It was Minny’s first preseason loss after four wins.

Roster Update

As expected, the Nets waived Donovan Williams, the 6’6” wing they signed 24 hours earlier. That put the Nets at 19 players. He’s likely headed to Long Island. The Nets roster has to be finalized by Tuesday.

Injury Update

Before the game, Steve Nash told Nick Friedell where things stand with his injured players...

Edmond Sumner who has hip soreness is also day-to-day.

Grady gets a cameo on YES

Michael Grady is in his rookie year with the Timberwolves, now the lead announcer in Minny after being the sideline reporter — and a fan favorite — in Brooklyn.

Chris Carrino and Frank Isola gave Grady a shoutout on their telecast.

What’s next

Preseason- Atlanta Hawks v New Orleans Pelicans Photo by Layne Murdoch Jr./NBAE via Getty Images

After topping off a preseason in great fashion, the Nets will now hit the season opener against the Pelicans at Barclays Center on Wednesday night. The game is slated to tip at 7:30 p.m. ET.

For a different perspective on the preseason finale, check out Canis Hoopus — our sister site covering the Timberwolves.