MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — In a new city and now with a new coach, Brook Lopez and the Brooklyn Nets have found balance and confidence the franchise hasn't had for years.
The big man in the middle has been quite the complement to their sharp-shooting backcourt, even if he's hesitant to admit it.
Lopez strengthened his case for a spot on the All-Star team with 22 points on 10-for-16 shooting, helping the Nets hold off the Minnesota Timberwolves 91-83 Wednesday night to improve to 12-2 under interim coach P.J. Carlesimo.
"We just have a number of great guys who are very talented individually, and we're just playing well together," Lopez said. "That's the best part."
The All-Star reserves will be announced Thursday.
"You know I never watch any of that stuff. I'll probably be sitting in my room with the lights turned off, doing nothing," Lopez said, smiling.
When the lights are on, the Nets are 9-1 with their lineup of Lopez, the NBA's highest-scoring center, perennial All-Star guards Deron Williams and Joe Johnson, and Gerald Wallace and Reggie Evans at the forward spots. 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.
"We're grateful for the win, but hopefully we realize we need to play a little more consistently than we did tonight," said Carlesimo, who took over last month when Avery Johnson was fired.
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.
"Any time you play a team like this, all we talk about is they're dangerous," Williams said. "They've got a couple guys out, but these other guys are hungry. They want the minutes. They relish the minutes."
Including guard Ricky Rubio, who was visibly upset on the bench at the end of the game. On a strict limit of 28 minutes per game in his return from reconstructive left knee surgery, Rubio checked in around the 4-minute mark but was called back to the bench when acting coach Terry Porter decided to keep J.J. Barea in the game.
"I didn't like it, but he did what he thinks is best for the team," said Rubio, who had six assists and three steals in 24 minutes but only five points. "I want to know what happened. We're going to talk."