James Leads Cavs Past Host Timberwolves
Cleveland 97, Minnesota 91
MINNEAPOLIS, Feb. 8 (Ticker) -- LeBron James provided the punch from the outside and Zydrunas Ilgauskas dominated the paint for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
James had 35 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists and Ilgauskas scored 21 as the Cavaliers posted a 97-91 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves, who failed to sweep the season series.
The Timberwolves posted an 89-85 victory in Cleveland on November 26 mainly by containing Ilgauskas inside. James scored 38 points in that game, but Ilgauskas managed just nine on 2-of-10 shooting.
In this one, James got plenty of help. Ilgauskas was 6-of-10 from the field while the Cavaliers' bench totaled 27 points. Cleveland's reserves had just seven points in the previous matchup with Minnesota.
"I could talk about LeBron every night," Cavaliers coach Mike Brown said. "But tonight we got great contributions from Donyell Marshall, who was very active on the boards and Jones who came in an supplied some energy."
The Cavs had a 77-71 lead entering the fourth quarter but saw the advantage trimmed to 83-81 when Timberwolves forward Mark Madsen split a pair of free throws with 5:26 remaining.
James then restored order, collecting five points and an assist in a 7-0 run that rebuilt a 90-81 lead just over two minutes later.
"You can't take him (James) on full court because he's an aggressive driver and you can't sag off him because then he'll hit his jumper," Jones said. "You have to pick your poison."
Ricky Davis made two free throws to cut the Timberwolves' deficit to 90-88 with 36 seconds to play, but James scored on a layup and Jones made 1-of-2 free throws to build a five-point edge with 11 seconds remaining.
"We like having the ball in LeBron's hands in those situations," Brown said. "We brought Z (Ilgauskas) out for a pick-and-roll and if LeBron got doubled he was to hit the open man and then they have to make that shot. But he didn't and he made a nice layup."
Davis brought Minnesota within two points once again with a 3-pointer two seconds later before Ilgauskas and James each made a pair of free throws down the stretch to seal the victory.
"We set a pick to get me open at the top of the key," said Davis, who made 12-of-29 shots. "If I wasn't open, I was going to try to get to the basket, but I was and I made it."
Marshall had 10 points and 13 rebounds off the bench for Cleveland, which shot 39 percent (30-of-77) from the field and made 8-of-21 3-pointers.
Davis had 33 points and seven rebounds and Kevin Garnett contributed 21 and 18 for the Timberwolves, who shot 38 percent (33-of-85) overall.
"When they started playing zone, it slowed us down, made us stagnant," said Garnett, who added six assists. "It was effective and teams have been playing us pretty much straight up (man-to-man). I'm sure some other teams are going to watch this game, and they're going to do some of the same things. I know what we're going to work on tomorrow."