There was agony and ecstasy for the Timberwolves in Target Center on Friday night, except they experienced them in the opposite order.
First, there was the euphoria of Naz Reid, who hadn't scored all night, entering the game cold off the bench in the final moments of regulation to hit a buzzer-beating three to force overtime.
But Brooklyn was able to regather while the Wolves relented with some crucial mental mistakes on defense during a 124-123 overtime loss.
The Wolves had built a 121-118 lead following a jumper from Anthony Edwards, who led the Wolves with 32 points on the night. But on each of their next two possessions, Spencer Dinwiddie (29 points, 11 assists) caused the Wolves defense to collapse when it shouldn't have.
Dinwiddie found Mikal Bridges (34 points) for the tying three, then hit Dorian Finney-Smith for the go-ahead three with 36.8 seconds remaining. After the game, the Wolves lamented that their defense was helping on Dinwiddie's drives when everyone should have stayed at home on the shooters, which was the game plan with Rudy Gobert roaming the paint to deter shots at the rim.
"We failed to stay on assignment, stay attached to our man," guard Mike Conley said. "We were told at that time of the game to try not to give up a three by helping in too much, and it's hard in the speed of the game with someone driving at you, your instinct is to go in and help. ... Just a mental lapse there, and you can't afford to do that late in the game, whether guys are tired or whatever that might be."
Conley, who had a tough night shooting with 11 points on 3-for-13, had the final shot to win it from the left corner as time expired in overtime. His shot missed everything as it appeared Dinwiddie might have made contact with his arm.
But the Wolves also lost Friday's game at different points, like when the Nets outscored them 37-20 in the third quarter to reverse an eight-point Wolves halftime lead into a nine-point Nets lead in the fourth. The stagnated ball movement against Brooklyn's switching defense caused the Wolves to hit only two threes in the second half, one of them Reid's.
The Wolves shot just 2-for-17 from three-point range in the second half and overtime while Brooklyn was 8-for-17. The Wolves also gave away points at the free-throw line (18-for-29) while Edwards had trouble navigating Brooklyn's coverages.
He forced the action at times and took as many dicey shots down the stretch as he did good ones. Edwards, who also had six rebounds and two assists, declined to speak to the media after the game. He finished 12-for-26 from the field.
"It's part of the growth curve," coach Chris Finch said. "The two assists is not enough. I think he's got to create more ball movement, particularly the gravity he has. I think it's two games in a row where he doesn't have enough assists for my liking. We're at our best when he's drawing attention scoring and finding easy shots for his teammates."
The Wolves had easier shots as a team in the first half, specifically in finding Rudy Gobert, who had 26 points on 12-for-15 shooting. Kyle Anderson was the primary creator during that stretch as he finished with 15 points and 11 assists. The Wolves couldn't carry that into the second half, and they squandered a chance to move up out of the din of the play-in tournament in the Western Conference standings.
"This one is tough, it's very tough because granted we didn't play our best, but we gave ourselves an opportunity late," Conley said. "Guys made big plays, each and every guy. Naz came in, obviously. Everybody had a moment. We really felt like we played hard enough to win, we just had a couple plays where we had lapses."