NEW YORK (AP) — Another celebratory night at Barclays Center for a Russian.
No, not Mikhail Prokhorov.
His Brooklyn Nets were on their way to an easy win and a 2-0 start until rookie Alexey Shved led the Minnesota Timberwolves on a furious rally from a 22-point, second-half deficit to a 107-96 victory on Monday night.
Prokhorov was scheduled to fly back to Russia after the game, perhaps shaking his head the whole way home.
“For sure this was a very important game for Russia because everybody is watching and everybody wants to know who won this game,” said Shved, who helped Russia to its first Olympic men’s basketball medal in London, a bronze. “We’re happy we won.”
Maybe a little surprised, too.
Shved made the go-ahead basket with 2:35 remaining and had a pair of 3-pointers in the fourth quarter after going scoreless for the first three. The Timberwolves scored the final 11 points in an impressive rally on the second night of back-to-back games. Seemingly out of the game early in the second half, they overwhelmed the Nets in the fourth quarter with a brilliant effort from their bench.
“We just kept talking about getting tougher down the stretch,” Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman said. “We had to get stops in that fourth quarter. We played with a real edge in that fourth quarter and it just turned the whole thing around.”
Shved, a point guard from Russia who along with Wolves forward Andrei Kirilenko played last season for the CSKA Moscow team that Prokohov once owned, hit from in the lane to make it 98-96. Then Nikola Pekovic scored inside and Chase Budinger made a 3-pointer with 38 seconds to go, making it 103-96 in front of a stunned crowd in the second game at the new Barclays Center.
The Nets hadn’t trailed in the second half of their first two games until Pekovic put Minnesota ahead with a little more than 4 1/2 minutes remaining.
It was the fourth-biggest comeback in Minnesota franchise history, the largest since falling behind Dallas 74-50 before rallying for a 113-110 overtime victory on Jan. 17, 1998.
The Nets had all kinds of problems down the stretch in their second game at their $1 billion arena, including the statistics monitors going down. Instead of being 2-0, they will break out their black road uniforms for the first time in the regular season with a 1-1 mark and a tough trip, visiting Miami on Wednesday and unbeaten Orlando on Friday.
Brooklyn was without starting forward Gerald Wallace after he sprained his left ankle late in Saturday’s win over Toronto.
The Wolves have much more severe injury problems, with Kevin Love still recovering from a broken right hand and Ricky Rubio remaining out indefinitely after tearing up his left knee last March. They did get back JJ Barea after he left in the second quarter of Sunday’s loss with concussion-like symptoms, and he was on the floor for the fourth-quarter flurry.
It was a disappointing second game in Brooklyn for the Nets. There were plenty of empty seats at the start, perhaps a combination of lingering transportation troubles during the recovery from Superstorm Sandy and a less-than-marquee opponent on a Monday night. But the arena soon filled up well and the announced attendance was 14,017, still far below the sellout of 17,732 the Nets listed for Saturday’s 107-100 victory over Toronto.
The Timberwolves were glad Brooklyn got that game in, after its original opener against the Knicks last Thursday was postponed. If not, Minnesota would have been playing Monday against a team it hadn’t seen in a regular-season game yet.
“I was worried we were going to be their opening night, which I didn’t really want to do,” Adelman said before the game. “But we have a pretty good scout and he saw them in the preseason, so we know the players, so just a matter of what they’re going to run.”
Whatever it was, the Nets ran it well — for three quarters.
Brooklyn scored 31 points in each of the first two, shooting 59.5 percent from the field and 61.5 percent from 3-point range in the first half. Joe Johnson made two of the Nets’ eight 3-pointers, including one that gave them their biggest lead of the half at 59-43. The lead was 15 at the break and it seemed the Nets would have an easy night against a Minnesota team that lost by 19 in Toronto a night earlier.
Deron Williams’ 3-pointer with 9:36 left in the third made it a 22-point game, but the Wolves trimmed that deficit in half by the end of the period, then dominated the first 6 minutes of the fourth.
Nets coach Avery Johnson said it looked as if the Nets “kind of ran out of gas” and “lost our way” at the end.
“I just think for our team, losses like this have to really sting more than they ever have in the past, because losses like this can come back to bite you later in the year,” Johnson said. “So we can’t afford to lose at home. We’re trying to build a home-court advantage, we’re trying to get us a rhythm here at home, some momentum. So this was one that was definitely a winnable game.”
Budinger and Shved made consecutive 3-pointers before Dante Cunningham’s basket capped a run of eight straight points to tie it at 92 with 6:29 to play. The Wolves regained the lead for the first time since the first quarter when Pekovic beat his man down the floor and took a long pass for a layup that made it 96-94 with a little over 4 1/2 minutes to play.
Williams agreed with his coach that the loss stung.
“I think we’ll see how we respond tomorrow,” he said. “I think more important (is) how we come out in practice. If you come out lackadaisical and not ready to work in practice, then it probably didn’t mean any much to you. If we come out ready to work, we’ll know that we didn’t perform the way we should, things didn’t go the right way and we want to correct those things.”
Notes: Barea, along with Cleveland’s Donald Sloan, got one of the NBA’s first two warnings for flopping. The league determined Barea was acting to fool the referee into calling a foul when he threw his upper body backward after contact while defending Sacramento’s Jimmer Fredette in the fourth quarter on Friday. … Prokhorov said hello to Kirilenko when they bumped into each other earlier Monday at the arena. Prokhorov was in Brooklyn for the first two games.
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