Cavs Wear Down Wolves
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.
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.”
“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.”