Final Dime: T-Wolves 98, Cavaliers 97
Mo Williams doubled-up for the fifth straight game on Sunday night.
David Liam Kyle
Leading the T-Wolves by 10 with 5:24 to play, the Cavaliers were poised to avenge a 34-point drubbing less than a month ago in Minnesota. But consecutive three-pointers from Kevin Love and Luke Ridenour got the Wolves close, and Michael Beasley’s runner with 5.9 remaining put the finishing touches on the 98-97 heartbreaker at The Q.
There were six lead changes in the final 2:44 of play on Sunday night. The final, and game-deciding, exchange came with 10.6 to play.
Following a pair of free throws from Kevin Love, Antawn Jamison worked his way past Beasley and drained a runner to give Cleveland back the lead at 97-96. But on the ensuing possession, Beasley scored on a runner of his own to give Minnesota the 98-97 edge.
On the game’s final possession, Jamison tried to hit another runner over the third-year forward as time wound down. Jamison drew contact from Beasley – (something even he admitted to Jamison later) – but his shot rattled around the rim and out. Jawad Williams got his fingers on the ball, but not enough of it to drop home the game-winner.
“We were almost scared to win the game,” lamented Coach Byron Scott. “When you want to win the game, you have to go and take it. That’s the bottom line. I thought we were kind of passive on both ends of the floor the last three minutes of the game and it cost us.”
Williams was integral in getting the Cavaliers their late lead – canning three straight three-pointers, including a fourth-quarter bomb that extended Cleveland’s lead to nine. The Wine and Gold would eventually grab a two touchdown lead in the fourth – 88-74 – before Love and Ridenour began their long-distance assault.
The Cavaliers got strong individual performances from their veteran starters.
Antawn Jamison finished 10-for-21 from the floor, including 2-of-3 from beyond the arc, for a team-high 24 points – adding six boards, a pair of assists and a blocked shot.
Anthony Parker followed up with 21 points, going an even 9-of-18 from the field. Parker, who moved back to the backcourt with Daniel Gibson out of commission, played an excellent floor game – pitching in with seven boards, seven assists and a steal.
Mo Williams doubled-up with 17 points and a game-high 11 assists – going 6-for-16 from the floor. Anderson Varejao tallied just six points, but led the Wine and Gold with 12 boards.
“This one probably hurt the most out of all of the losses this year,” said a dejected Williams. “We were up 10-12 points with three minutes to go. You want to take control of the game and come out with the win.”
The Cavaliers out-shot Minnesota overall – 46 percent to 39 – but the T-Wolves were 12-of-23 from long-range (4-for-5 in the fourth quarter) and shot 91 percent from the stripe compared to just 54 percent (7-of-13) for Cleveland.
The Wine and Gold are home for consecutive contests, but that doesn’t mean it gets any easier, as Dwight Howard and the new-look Magic roll into town for a Tuesday night affair at The Q.
2. Mo Williams continued his incredible string of double-doubles – running his current mark to an Eastern Conference-leading five straight contests. During that span – the longest of his eight-year career – Mo is averaging 19.2 points, 11.4 assists and 4.8 rebounds per contest.
3. Before Sunday’s heartbreaker, the Wine and Gold had won four straight against the Timberwolves at The Q.
4. The Cavaliers came into Sunday’s game as the league’s best team protecting the basketball, averaging just 13.0 turnovers per contest. Cleveland topped that number with 17 on Sunday – with Anthony Parker and Mo Williams combining for eight – but only committed five of those miscues in the second half.
5. In the crowd for Sunday’s game was the star of “CSI: NY” and “Providence” – Melina Kanakaredes – an Akron native who also attended Ohio State.
6. Daniel Gibson was a late scratch on Sunday due to a stomach virus – the ill-effects he began feeling after Sunday morning’s shootaround. Trainer Max Benton sent Boobie home to keep the team from catching his bug.
7. Anthony Parker’s 21-point performance was his season-high and all-time high score as a Cavalier.
8. Coach Byron Scott was asked who Timberwolves forward Kevin Love reminds him of and Scott sited the new head coach of the Charlotte Bobcats, Paul Silas – a tough rebounder and scorer who didn’t play above the rim. Silas is the third former Cavs coach – along with Golden State’s Keith Smart and Denver’s George Karl currently coaching another squad.
9. During Wednesday’s loss to Atlanta, Mo Williams passed the 7,000-point plateau for his career. With his 17-point performance against Minnesota he now has 7,030 on his career – 2,918 as a Cavalier. He’ll still need 3,411 more to catch World B. Free and crack the top 10.
10. For the seventh time in his last nine outings, Anderson Varejao grabbed double-digit rebounds – snagging an even dozen on Sunday. Over his last 11 games, Andy is averaging 11.4 boards per contest and currently ranks 10th in the NBA.
Joe Gabriele is the official beat writer for the Cleveland Cavaliers on Cavs.com. You can follow Joe and send him your questions on Twitter at @CavsJoeG.