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The Sports Xchange, Published March 30 2014

Nets beat Wolves for 13th straight win at home

NEW YORK – The Brooklyn Nets made a resolution for New Years to play better basketball after a disastrous start to the season. The Nets have done that and are on the verge of clinching a playoff berth after beating the Minnesota Timberwolves, 114-99, at Barclays Center Sunday night.

“A lot of teams with bad character and bad leadership in the locker room would have laid down a long time ago, probably by Christmas would have been making summer plans,” Nets forward Paul Pierce said. “But not this group. You have a mentally strong group full of veterans who were always staying positive and patient with each other.”

The Nets tied a franchise record set in 2002 with their 13th consecutive home win.

“The first part of the season was rough on us – injuries and everything that we went through,” Nets guard Deron Williams said. “It feels good to be able to turn it around.”

Forward Andray Blatche had 14 points and six rebounds, forward Alan Anderson had 13 points, and forward Mason Plumlee and guard Shaun Livingston added 13 points apiece for the Nets, who scored 100-plus points for the eighth consecutive game, their longest streak since 1994.

Anderson did most of his damage down the stretch with three big 3-pointers.

“He’s a good player,” Minnesota guard Ricky Rubio said of Anderson. “I played with him in Barcelona and I knew him. I tried to give a hint to my teammates, but he can hit big shots. He killed us in the fourth quarter.”

The Nets (39-33) clamped down defensively in the fourth quarter, limiting a Timberwolves team that dropped 143 points on the Lakers Friday night to just 17 points in the final quarter Sunday. It was the 12th straight time during the 13-game home winning streak the Nets held an opponent under 100 points.

Guard Kevin Martin and forward Corey Brewer had 21 points apiece and center Nikola Pekovic had 13 points for the Timberwolves, who lost for the fourth time in six games.

Minnesota standout Kevin Love was held to 14 points, 12 below his season average, on just 5-of-14 shooting from the field. But the versatile forward said it had more to do with him feeling under the weather than anything the Nets did defensively.

“They did a good job, but it was really just me being exhausted,” Love said. “I couldn’t find any energy in the second half. That was really it.”

The Timberwolves (36-36) scored 10 points off seven Nets turnovers in the third quarter and took a 69-63 lead on a Brewer putback dunk with 8:07 left in the third.

Minnesota 27 27 28 17 — 99:

Brooklyn 30 29 26 29 — 114:

MINNESOTA (99)

Kv.Martin 9-16 2-4 21, Love 5-14 3-4 14, Rubio 2-7 3-4 7, Brewer 9-13 3-4 21, Pekovic 5-7 3-5 13, Dieng 2-4 1-2 5, Budinger 2-6 2-2 6, Barea 2-6 1-2 6, Cunningham 3-4 0-0 6, Mbah a Moute 0-4 0-0 0, Hummel 0-1 0-0 0, Muhammad 0-1 0-0 0, Shved 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 39-83 18-27 99.

BROOKLYN (114)

Do.Williams 1-9 3-4 6, Jo.Johnson 8-13 2-3 19, Livingston 4-5 5-6 13, Pierce 8-11 1-2 22, Ma.Plumlee 4-7 5-6 13, A.Anderson 5-10 0-0 13, Teletovic 3-10 0-0 7, Blatche 7-11 0-1 14, Thornton 2-6 0-0 5, Gutierrez 1-4 0-0 2, Collins 0-0 0-0 0, M.Teague 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 43-86 16-22 114.

3-Point Goals: Minnesota 3-12 (Kv.Martin 1-2, Barea 1-3, Love 1-3, Brewer 0-1, Rubio 0-1, Budinger 0-2), Brooklyn 12-33 (Pierce 5-8, A.Anderson 3-7, Thornton 1-3, Do.Williams 1-3, Jo.Johnson 1-5, Teletovic 1-5, Gutierrez 0-2). Fouled out: None. Rebounds: Minnesota 52 (Dieng 11), Brooklyn 50 (Ma.Plumlee 8). Assists: Minnesota 24 (Rubio 12), Brooklyn 21 (Do.Williams 5). Total Fouls: Minnesota 18 (Kv.Martin, Rubio 4), Brooklyn 22 (Pierce, Do.Williams 4). A—17,732.