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Nets on hold following deadly shooting

Brooklyn-Minnesota game called amid ongoing protests

April 13, 2021 John Torenli, Sports Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
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The city of Minnesota had a full slate of pro sports action scheduled for Monday night, including the Brooklyn Nets’ game against the hometown Timberwolves at the Target Center.

However, the tragic shooting death of 20-year-old Daunte Wright on Sunday by a while female police officer forced the postponement of the contest, as well as games hosted by the NHL’s Minnesota Wild and MLB’s Minnesota Twins.

Wright, a 20-year-old black man, was killed in Brooklyn Center during a traffic stop that went horribly wrong.

The event further fueled protests in a city that is already filled with tension while awaiting the outcome of the ongoing trial of Derek Chauvin, the white officer charged in the well-chronicled death of George Floyd.

It also ended any chance that the Nets would play in Minnesota Monday.

“Yesterday’s tragic event, involving the life of Daunte Wright, once again leaves our community mourning,” the Timberwolves said in a team-issued statement Monday.

“After consultation with the League, and local and state officials, we believe postponing tonight’s game versus the Brooklyn Nets is the best decision.”

The Nets, who were without Kyrie Irving (personal reasons), LaMarcus Aldridge (non-Covid-related illness) and NBA Most Valuable Player candidate James Harden (hamstring), were in town to kick off a two-game road trip.

Though he took a personal day Monday, Kyrie Irving should be right back with head coach Steve Nash and the Brooklyn Nets Wednesday in Philadelphia. AP Photo by Adam Hunger

Brooklyn was coming off Saturday night’s 126-101 blowout loss to the Los Angeles Lakers at Barclays Center, which dropped the Nets (36-17) one-half game behind Philadelphia (37-17) for the best record in the Eastern Conference.

“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 lamented.

Though there had been chatter that Brooklyn might be able to stay in Minnesota and play the game on Tuesday, the most likely scenario would be the Nets returning to visit the Timberwolves at a later date while proceeding to Philadelphia for Wednesday night’s critical tilt against the 76ers.

“The National Basketball Association announced (Monday) that in light of the tragic events in the Minneapolis area yesterday, tonight’s game between the Brooklyn Nets and the Minnesota Timberwolves at Target Center has been postponed,” the league said in a statement.

The NHL’s Wild were supposed to host the St. Louis Blues on Monday while the Twins were the first to call off their afternoon contest against the Boston Red Sox.

“Based on the events of the last 24 hours and as information has started to come to light, playing a baseball game today felt a little less important,” Twins president Dave St. Peter said.

“When you add a level of public safety to that, particularly the safety for fans, our players, our staff, again we thought the decision we made today was the right call. History will maybe tell us otherwise. But today, this moment, we’re pretty confident we’re doing the right thing.”

State officials as well as the NBA, NHL and MLB were still contemplating whether any games at all would be played in Minnesota on Tuesday as well at press time.

Though he’s not making as much as teammate Kevin Durant, Alize Johnson was happy to receive a multi-year contract from the Nets on Sunday. AP Photo by Frank Franklin II

NOTHING BUT NET: The Nets announced Sunday that Alize Johnson, who had played effectively on two 10-day contracts for Brooklyn, will be a member of the roster for the remainder of the year after inking a multi-year contract. Though terms of the contract were not revealed, as per team policy, ESPN reported that the pact could be worth up to $4.1 million for Johnson, who was 7.8 points and 5.8 rebounds while shooting a blistering 66 percent from the floor in his first six appearances for the Nets. “When I got here, I came right in and they just made me feel comfortable in my first game in Utah, just telling me to go out there and play really hard and play with some energy and be confident,” said Johnson, who signed his first 10-day deal with Brooklyn on March 22. “So hearing that from Steve (Nash) and James (Harden), and the other guys like Jeff (Green), it just made me feel confident, made me feel comfortable right away. And I was offered a second 10-day. So it’s been a blessing, like I’ve said, and just want to continue to keep proving to them that I belong and I want to be here.” … After visiting Philly on Wednesday, the Nets will be back at Barclays Center on Friday night to host Charlotte.

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