They even took a 66-52 lead shortly after halftime, only to let Ridnour lead the Wolves back within two points again, burning the Nets often with backdoor cuts or fast breaks off their careless turnovers.
"The fact that they made a run and we withstood it and still held 'em off on their home floor means a lot," said Johnson, who 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 Barea's expense early in the fourth with nine straight points for the Nets.
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. For all their effort to make this a game, the Wolves were just too short-handed to gain control after falling behind 14-2 from the opening tip.
The Wolves fell to 3-9 in January, 2-8 since Love re-injured his right hand. They attempted only six free throws, their fewest in almost six years. One bright spot was Chris Johnson, signed on Saturday to a 10-day contract from the D-League. He played all 12 minutes in the second quarter and had 10 points during that stretch.
"It's hard for us to finish games. We just have to want to win," Rubio said. "Sometimes it seems like we don't want to win."
Notes: Carlesimo was asked what the ceiling is for Lopez, who entering the night was the only player in the NBA currently averaging at least 18 points, 7 rebounds and 2 blocks per game. "I don't know, and I think that's a good thing," Carlesimo said. ... Ridnour has scored in double digits in 10 of his last 11 games. He's the only Wolves player to start every game this season. ... Rubio is 0 for 11 from 3-point range this season. The Wolves are the only NBA team with a 3-point percentage worse than 30.
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