Cavs' Huge Run vs. Wolves Ends 12-game Slide
CLEVELAND, Jan. 29 (Ticker) --
If only the Cleveland Cavaliers could play the Minnesota Timberwolves every night.
scored 27 points and Andre Miller
added 17 as the Cavaliers shut down All-Star Kevin Garnett
and snapped a 12-game losing streak with a 114-81 rout of the Timberwolves.
Cleveland entered with the second-longest losing streak in team history, while Minnesota was just one-half game behind first-place Dallas in the Midwest Division. But for one night, the roles were reversed as the Cavs took over in the third quarter. They shot an amazing 70.5 percent (12-of-17) to extend a 48-40 halftime lead to 85-58.
"No one gave us a chance tonight," Person said. "It was fun to win, and this team never quits. Overall, we have been in a couple of games; other than the Golden State game, we have been right there."
NBA.comTV highlights from Timberwolves-Cavaliers:
Despite the best efforts of Terrell Brandon, Andre Miller was instrumental in helping the Cavs crush the Wolves.
David Liam Kyle
The game quickly turned in Cleveland's favor in the first four minutes of the second half, when it opened with a 19-2 run. That was the high point of an amazing 55-19 run from the 3:37 mark of the second quarter to 1:28 left in the third.
Person scored eight points during the burst on an uncontested jumper and two 3-pointers. He had 16 on 7-of-7 shooting in the period and finished 12-of-18.
"When you are in a zone and everything you throw up is going in, you say to yourself, `This is my night'," Person said. "The first five minutes of the third, plus our defense, made a big difference. We made our run tonight instead of the opposite (happening)."
The third quarter was an extension of a 45-4 stretch that bridged the second and third quarters. Minnesota had taken a 39-30 lead with 3:37 left in the second following a three-point play by Anthony Peeler
But Person and Bryant Stith
nailed 3-pointers as Cleveland reeled off 14 straight points.
"I'd like to say that I have a magic wand and wave it for all the things we need to do that we will do," Minnesota coach Flip Saunders said. "We weren't even in the game. We were up 39-30 and they went on an unbelievable run."
Minnesota has emerged as an elite team in the Western Conference by going 19-2 at home. However, it has dropped three straight on the road and is just 12-11 away from the Target Center.
Saunders attributed his team's recent road struggles to being unable to stop opponents' runs.
"Right now what has happened is that when teams make a run at us, we've rolled over in our last three games on the road," he said. "When the other team makes a run, you've got to dig in, and we haven't dug in our heels."
In Friday's 104-100 loss at Toronto, Minnesota fell behind by 18 points at intermission and only a late run kept it in a game in which it never led. Two nights earlier, in a 104-83 loss at Detroit, the Wolves were outscored, 34-12, in the second quarter.
"On the road, it seems to be a little mental," Garnett said. "We have to focus as a team, got to move the ball. Wally (Szczerbiak)
got only six shots, we can't have that. We have a flow in offense. When it stops flowing, guys like Wally, Joe (Smith)
and guys off the bench don't look effective. We have to go back to the drawing board and bounce back."
In the first meeting on November 13 in Minnesota, Cleveland coach John Lucas employed a zone defense in a 107-103 victory. He also used that strategy Tuesday as the Cavs limited Garnett to 14 points and the Wolves to 33 percent (30-of-89) shooting.
Garnett was 7-of-23 and missed his last nine shots as the Wolves went 1-for-15 during Cleveland's surge.
"I thought that when we went on the run, it was big," Lucas said. "But more importantly was the third quarter. We didn't give them any momentum and kept playing. What I have tried to keep selling to this team is keep your mouth shut and keep working."
Lucas' use of the zone also helped against Szczerbiak, who was named as a reserve to the Western Conference All-Star team before the game but finished with just three points on 1-of-6 shooting. He did not score until draining a meaningless 3-pointer with 4:57 to go in the fourth quarter.
"I've just got to make sure to keep my head in the game and keep playing hard on the defensive end and do what I can to help on the offensive end to get a few touches," Szczerbiak said.
"We ran our offense," Saunders added. "I think the Cavs did a good job of pushing into him a little bit. We were out of sync. I don't think he was as aggressive as he has been and I don't think we did a good job of trying to find him."