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Timberwolves can’t snap Nets’ home streak

Sports Xchange

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, who tied a franchise record set in 2002 with their 13th consecutive home win, can book their postseason ticket with a Knicks loss at Golden State Sunday night.

Pierce set the tone for the Nets, scoring 16 of his game-high 22 points in the first quarter two nights after scoring 17 in the opening stanza against Cleveland.

Forward Joe Johnson added 19 points and became the 15th active NBA player to reach 17,000 career points, joining teammates Kevin Garnett and Pierce. Johnson also scored in double figures for the ninth consecutive game.

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.

Six different players combined to knock down 13 3-pointers for Brooklyn.

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.