Wolves Get Much-Needed 100-92 Win Over Cavs

Mark Remme
Wolves Editor/Writer

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As difficult as the last six weeks have been for the Timberwolves, sometimes it only takes one night of sound basketball to turn things around. We’re at a point where it’s too early to tell if that will be the case after Monday’s 100-92 road win against the Cleveland Cavaliers, but at the very least the performance ended a long-standing road losing streak and put Minnesota in position to possibly win two straight heading into the All-Star Break.

The Wolves ended their eight-game road losing streak on Monday, a stretch that dates all the way back to Jan. 3 in Denver. That’s the game Kevin Love re-fractured his right hand, and in the time since Minnesota has used four different starting lineups that included nine different players.

This team has endured a lot this season, but they’ve remained committed to one another in the sense that most nights they are finding ways to have a chance to win in the fourth—the problem is they’re trying to climb out of big holes or they don’t have an answer for an opposing team’s hot hand down the stretch.

So being able to beat a Cleveland team on the road that had won six of nine coming into the night was a big boost for this Wolves club.

“It’s always tough. We’re competitors and we want to win games. Losing, as much as you don’t want to say it, takes a toll on you,” guard Luke Ridnour said. “We’ve been in a lot of these games but just haven’t been able to win them (so) this is good one for us to finally win.”

The Timberwolves are now tasked with trying to win their first back-to-back games since winning four straight from Dec. 7-15 when they host Utah on Wednesday in their final game before the All-Star Break. Recent history is on their side. A year ago the Wolves pulled out a memorable 100-98 win over the Jazz in this same situation—final game before the All-Star Break at Target Center—as Ridnour hit a tear-drop buzzer beater over Al Jefferson to the delight of an electric Target Center crowd.

Last night’s win certainly can provide a little energy for this Wolves team as they try to repeat history on Wednesday night.

“We needed that,” guard Ricky Rubio said. “We’ve been fighting a lot at home and on the road. We were fighting (in all) the games. We needed a win like that.”

Here are a few numbers to keep in mind from last night’s win as we get set for this final game before the break:

  • All five Wolves starters plus Alexey Shved off the bench scored in double-figures on Monday. The starters (Rubio - 13, Ridnour - 21, Gelabale - 11, Williams - 13 and Pekovic - 16) shot a combined 54 percent from the field in the game. Minnesota's starters scored 74 points in total, while Shved added 11 off the bench.

  • Ricky Rubio had 13 points, 10 assists and five steals on Wednesday against the Cavaliers, his third 10/10/5 game of his career. He is one of five players in Timberwolves history to achieve that stat line. Terrell Brandon (7), Micheal Williams (3), Kevin Garnett and Stephon Marbury are the others on the list.

  • Rubio has recorded 10-plus assists in four of his last five games, three of which were point-assist double doubles.

  • Luke Ridnour had a spectacular game from the field, finishing with a game-high 21 points on 9-of-14 shooting. He had 13 of his points in the fourth on 5-of-8 shooting, connecting not only with is midrange jumpers and behind the arc but also with his patented tear-drop. Ridnour has shot 59 percent over his last five games, registering double-digits in each of those contests and 20-plus points in two of his last three games.

  • Nikola Pekovic recorded his 16th double-double of the season with 16 points and 10 rebounds. He played 40 minutes in the game. Pek was aggressive from the outset on Monday and set the tone by getting looks near the hoop and drawing fouls. He didn’t convert on all of those opportunities, but he did establish his presence and it certainly helped on a night the Wolves were effective from outside.

  • Two points of concern for Minnesota this year have been free throws and 3-pointers. The Timberwolves shot 8-of-14 from 3-point range and 14-of-17 from the line against Cleveland, a great sign for a team that has lost games down the stretch in which they shot poorly from each area. If Minnesota can improve both of these categories, their win percentage will increase, too.

  • Speaking of 3-point shooting, Mickael Gelabale filled in admirably for the injured Andrei Kirilenko last night and finished with 11 points. He was a perfect 3-of-3 from 3-point range and hit a pair in the first quarter that sparked the Timberwolves.

  • The Wolves recorded 25 assists on 39 field goals, and they shot 52 percent from the field as a result.

  • For more news and notes on the team follow the Minnesota Timberwolves and Mark Remme on Twitter, and join the conversation at WolvesNation.com.