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Dave Campbell / Associated Press, Published January 23 2013

Lopez carries Nets to victory against Timberwolves

MINNEAPOLIS – Brook Lopez strengthened his push for a spot on the All-Star team with 22 points on 10-for-16 shooting, helping the Brooklyn Nets hold off the Minnesota Timberwolves 91-83 on Wednesday.

The Nets improved to 12-2 under interim coach P.J. Carlesimo, and they’re 9-1 with their preferred starting lineup: Lopez, the NBA’s highest-scoring center, Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Gerald Wallace and Reggie Evans. Williams and Johnson scored 18 points apiece, and the Nets never trailed despite some sloppy stretches of play.

C.J. Watson added 14 points for the Nets, who won for the first time in their last nine games at Minnesota. The Wolves have lost seven of their last eight overall.

Andrei Kirilenko had 15 points and Dante Cunningham added 14 for the Wolves, who played without shooting guard Alexey Shved (left ankle) and center Nikola Pekovic (right quadriceps) for the third straight game. That’s not to mention the four others out with longer-term injuries, a troubling list led by Kevin Love.

With Ricky Rubio guarding Williams and Luke Ridnour on Johnson, the Nets as they often do had mostly favorable matchups in the backcourt with their pair of perennial All-Stars. But whether it was bad passes that sailed out of bounds, a willingness to settle too often for long jump shots or scrappy defense by the Wolves, the Nets never put the game away. They even took a 66-52 lead shortly after halftime, only to let Ridnour lead the Wolves back within two points again.

Johnson went nearly 24½ minutes without scoring until a flurry late in the third quarter. Watson picked up where Johnson left off, playing a game of “Around the World” at J.J. Barea’s expense early in the fourth period with nine straight points for the Nets.

The Wolves fell to 3-9 in January, 2-8 since Love re-injured his right hand.

Fresh from an important win over the crosstown rival Knicks that moved them within one game of the Atlantic Division lead, the Nets needed to avoid the natural letdown against a reeling, injury-ravaged opponent. “You talk about Band-Aids,” Carlesimo said before the game, sympathizing with the Wolves.

Brooklyn 24 29 15 23–91

Minnesota 17 25 20 21–83

BROOKLYN (91): Wallace 2-6 2-2 6, Evans 1-1 0-0 2, Lopez 10-16 2-5 22, Dero.Williams 6-12 4-5 18, J.Johnson 8-16 0-0 18, Humphries 1-5 0-0 2, Bogans 0-4 0-0 0, Blatche 3-11 3-4 9, Stackhouse 0-3 0-0 0, Watson 6-8 0-0 14, Brooks 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 37-84 11-16 91.

MINNESOTA (83): Kirilenko 6-10 2-3 15, Derr.Williams 4-11 1-1 9, Stiemsma 1-5 0-0 2, Rubio 2-5 1-2 5, Ridnour 6-15 0-0 13, Cunningham 7-12 0-0 14, Gelabale 1-4 0-0 2, Barea 5-11 0-0 11, C.Johnson 6-10 0-0 12. Totals 38-83 4-6 83.

3-Point Goals: Brooklyn 6-20 (Watson 2-3, Dero. Williams 2-4, J.Johnson 2-8, Wallace 0-1, Bogans 0-4), Minnesota 3-15 (Kirilenko 1-3, Ridnour 1-4, Barea 1-4, Cunningham 0-1, Rubio 0-1, Gelabale 0-2). Rebounds: Brooklyn 54 (Humphries 8), Minnesota 45 (Kirilenko, Derr. Williams, C.Johnson 6). Assists_Brooklyn 19 (Dero. Williams 8), Minnesota 25 (Barea 8. Total Fouls: Brooklyn 16, Minnesota 17. Technicals: Minnesota Bench. A: 15,785 (19,356).