Cavs Wear Down Wolves

Kyrie Irving notched 14 points in Friday night's win over Minnesota.
David Sherman
NBAE.Getty Images
What a difference one year makes.

Last year in Minneapolis – in a season full of tough losses – the Wine and Gold absorbed a particularly difficult defeat at the hands of the Wolves. One big NBA Draft later, the Cavaliers returned with a vengeance.

Billed as a battle of rookie point guards, it was the work of veterans Antawn Jamison and Anderson Varejao that made the difference, as the Cavaliers blew past the T-Wolves in the second half – running out to the convincing 98-97 win on Friday night at the Target Center.

The game was tight through the first quarter, but Ramon Sessions’ free throws near the end of the period gave the Cavaliers a lead they would not relinquish. Minnesota got within a point in the second quarter and trimmed Cleveland’s 18-point edge to just 10 late in the affair, but the Wine and Gold were essentially in control the entire way.

“The first thing is, after the debacle in Toronto, I wanted to see how our guys would respond,” said Byron Scott. “I got an answer. They came back very focused tonight for the most part and did a lot of great things on both sides of the floor.”

Jamison scored 10 of his team-high 22 points in the third quarter, demoralizing Minnesota’s defense with his patented up-and-under moves. The 13-year vet went 10-of-22 from the floor, adding six boards and a pair of blocked shots.

Varejao contributed to the win in every way – finishing with 13 points, 12 boards, five assists, four steals and a pair of blocks of his own.

Kyrie Irving got the better of flashy fellow rookie, Ricky Rubio – finishing with 14 points, five boards and five assists. On the negative side of the ledger, Cleveland’s freshman point man committed a game-high seven miscues.

Three other Cavaliers – Alonzo Gee, Ramon Sessions and Daniel Gibson – finished with 11 points apiece. Gee added six boards to his line, Sessions chipped in with a team-high six assists and seven boards of his own and Boobie continued to play dogged defense and hit one clutch shot after another – going 3-for-3 from beyond the arc.

"I'm just a workaholic,” said Gibson. “I try to continue to get better, continue to be prepared for the games. I was taught that early and I think I'll maintain it as long as I play."

The Wine and Gold will take Friday’s solid win West with them as the seven-game junket continues in the Pacific Northwest with a Sunday night showdown with the Blazers.

  • Kyrie Irving has now notched double-figures in every game as pro and leads the freshman class in scoring at 14.2 ppg. The former Blue Devil is second among rookies at 5.3 assists per contest.

  • Anderson Varejao came into Friday’s game as the NBA’s fifth-leading rebounder and put up the biggest combined statistical line of points, boards, assists and steals since LeBron James in January of 2008.

  • Cavaliers assistant Nate Tibbets – the pride of Sioux Falls, N.D. – had several family and friends in the arena on Friday night. His head coach and point guard had some fun at his expense with the Minnesota media before the game.

    Kryie Irving, who worked pregame on the floor with Tibbets: “He was really pushing me out there,” joked Irving, adding: “No, I mean he was literally pushing me out there. He was fouling me like crazy.”

    When Byron Scott was asked why he hired him, Scott joked: “I don’t know why we hired him, he sucks.”

    Eventually, Coach relented and said: “He’s fantastic, we had our radar on Nate for the past couple years. (We) liked the work he did in the D-League, thought he was very enthusiastic, very hard-working. He really liked to grind and loved working with players.”

  • Samardo Samuels returned to action after the passport and visa fiasco that kept him from making the Toronto trip earlier in the week. It wasn’t exactly a memorable appearance. He didn’t see action until late in the third, then proceeded to commit five fouls in just under eight minutes of action.

  • Antawn Jamison isn’t known as a defensive stalwart, but he made Kevin Love work for everything on Friday night.

    “With a guy like that, you have to make him work on both ends,” said Jamsion. “We have a guy like that in LeMarcus Aldridge coming up. You have to make them work. You can’t just have them going downhill on one end of the floor. I wanted to get out and run a lot and make (Love) chase me.”

  • The league-leading Cavaliers continue to dominate opponents on the fastbreak – out-running Minnesota, 12-3, in Friday night’s win.