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Even though they were missing James Harden, the Brooklyn Nets lamented their performance in a lopsided loss to the shorthanded Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday night.

Without LeBron James and Anthony Davis, the Lakers took it to the Nets during a 126-101 rout in which Kyrie Irving and Dennis Schroder got into it verbally and were ejected in the third quarter.

“They hit us in the mouth early, and we were fighting uphill the whole game,” Nets forward Kevin Durant said. “Then they got hot.”

Now, the Nets go from a possible NBA Finals preview against the Lakers to traveling to Minnesota on Monday night to take on the last-place Timberwolves.

Brooklyn will play five of its next six games on the road.

Brooklyn will be even more shorthanded against the Timberwolves. The Nets’ Kyrie Irving won’t play for personal reasons, and LaMarcus Aldridge will be out with an illness. Harden will miss his third consecutive game with a right-hamstring strain as he waits to be re-evaluated, likely this week. Tyler Johnson also will be out for the fourth straight game with right-knee soreness.

On the plus side for the Nets, Durant will play in his third consecutive game Monday as he tries to get back in a rhythm after missing the previous 23 with a hamstring strain.

Durant scored 22 points in 24 minutes to lead the Nets against the Lakers but committed eight turnovers.

Eight Lakers scored in double figures, and their bench outscored the Nets’ backups 45-37, led by Ben McLemore’s 17 points.

“I thought they were the aggressor, they were more physical, they hit first and we didn’t match their physicality and competitive fire, and that’s what you get,” Nets coach Steve Nash said. “A team missing a bunch of guys, and guys get an opportunity and their eyes light up and they come out and play harder than us, play more physical than us.”

D’Angelo Russell’s return finally is giving Minnesota the chance to see how potent an offensive combination he and Karl-Anthony Towns can be together.

The Timberwolves avoided a three-game skid on Sunday night — a day after news broke that baseball legend Alex Rodriguez and e-commerce billionaire Marc Lore were moving toward buying the franchise — with a 121-117 victory over the visiting Chicago Bulls.

Russell and Towns each had 27 points to lead the team and combined for 21 points in the fourth quarter. Towns also finished with 12 rebounds and eight assists while Russell had four assists and shot 9-of-13 from the field during his 26 minutes on the floor.

“I think, for us, it was just more about staying solid, continuing to play our game plan no matter how things went,” Towns said. “I think we showed a lot of discipline tonight.”

After letting a 17-point lead slip away against the Celtics in their previous game, Minnesota held off the Bulls late despite a 21-point second half from Zach LaVine.

Anthony Edwards finished with 15 points and extended his NBA-best active streak of games with a steal to 22. The run is a franchise record for a rookie.

Minnesota honored Towns’ mother, Jacqueline, before the game with an open seat reserved for her with flowers. Jacqueline Towns died April 13, 2020, due to complications from COVID-19. Towns’ father, Karl Sr., sat courtside for Sunday’s game.

“It means everything to me,” Towns said.

–Field Level Media