GameDay Blog: Wolves vs. Cavaliers - Dec. 7, 2012

by Mark Remme
Web Editor

Mark Remme
Wolves Editor/Writer

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End Q4: That's it for this one here at Target Center. The Wolves wrapped this one up 91-73 led by 36 points and 13 rebounds by K-Love tonight. Ridnour with 12 points, seven assists and five rebounds, and Andrei Kirilenko with an impressive eight points, seven rebounds, six assists, four steals and three blocks. Really nice all-around game as he returns from missing four straight with back spasms. The Wolves are now 9-9 and head into a four-day break before playing Denver on Wednesday.

Check back to throughout the night for postgame highlights, analysis, photos and interview. MIN 91, CLE 73

Box Scores and GalleryBox ScoreGallery

Wolves vs Cavaliers

Q4 2:32: This hasn't been the prettiest of games, but the Wolves are 2:32 away from picking up their ninth win of the season and getting back to .500. They're shooting 22 percent from 3 and they've got 20 turnovers, but each time the Cavs have tried to chip away at their second half lead they've found a way to respond. They're sitting on their largest lead of the night as Kevin Love heads to the line for a pair of free throws. MIN 85, CLE 70

Q4 7:06: Cleveland is hanging around, but Minnesota just got a pair of back-to-back baskets that brought the lead to 11 with just over 7 minutes to play. After Shved hit a 17-foot jumper, Dante Cunningham capitalized on a JJ Barea steal and threw down a monster jam in transition. MIN 76, CLE 65

Q4 8:56: The Wolves needed a little boost a second ago, and JJ Barea provided it with a 3-pointer from the corner that stopped Cleveland's run that brought the Wolves' lead down to 6. Minnesota now has a nine-point lead with 8:56 to play, and they're going with Barea, Shved, Howard, Cunningham and Pekovic coming out of the timeout. MIN 72, CLE 63

End Q3: The Wolves are taking a 66-57 lead into the fourth thanks in large part to Kevin Love's 30-point effort so far tonight. He's 10-of-14 from the line and 9-of-16 from the field tonight. Minnesota is still having a rough time from distance. They're 2-of-14 tonight from behind the arc. Luke Ridnour has 10 points, seven assists and five rebounds, while Andrei Kirielenko has eight points, seven rebounds and five assists and Malcolm Lee has six points and seven rebounds. We've got 12 more minutes to go here from Target Center. MIN 66, CLE 57

Q3 4:51: Put down another double-double for Kevin Love--he's got 23 points and 10 rebounds tonight, leading all scorers and tied with Varejao for most boards on the night. We're coming out of a timeout here with the five Wolves starters still on the court. The Wolves didn't get a big spark off their bench tonight, and Cleveland came back during that stretch. Looks like Adelman is sticking with his starters here in the second half. MIN 59, CLE 46

Q3 8:57: This is more like it. The Wolves opened up the third quarter on a 6-2 run and are showing a lot more energy than they did during the second quarter. They've gotten four quick points from Andrei Kirilenko, who has also benefited from some nice passes from Luke Ridnour tonight. Ridnour up to a game-high six assists. Minnesota now has its largest lead of the night. MIN 50, CLE 39

Halftime: The Timberwolves escaped a rough offensive first half for both teams and hold a 44-37 lead heading into the third quarter. Kevin Love leads all scorers with 20 points on 7-of-13 shooting. Luke Ridnour has six points, four boards and four assists, Love and Malcolm Lee lead the team with six rebounds each. But the Wolves are shooting 1-of-9 from 3-point range, 39.6 percent overall from the floor and 13-of-19 from the free throw line. The Cavs are having similar struggles from the field. They're shooting 30.6 percent on the night. This is the Wolves' game for the taking, but their inconsistency offensively is keeping Cleveland in this one. MIN 44, CLE 37

Q2 2:44: We're at a standstill offensively here at Target Center. The Wolves haven't scored since the a pair of Pek free throws at the 4:16 mark, and they haven't had a field goal since JJ Barea's driving lay-up at the 4:45 mark. MIN 35, CLE 30

Q2 5:55: The Cavs just cut this lead down to 27-26 thanks to an 8-0 run capped by two straight 3-pointers. Despite shooting 22 percent just a few minutes ago, the Cavs are very much back in this game. The Timberwolves have gone cold from the field and already have seven turnovers, which the Cavs have turned into eight points. Wolves about to bring Pekovic and AK back into the game as Barea heads to the line. Shved and Cunningham round out the lineup. MIN 27, CLE 26

Q2 8:58: At this early stage in the game, the Cavs' starters have five total points on the night. Gibson has two and Gee has three. Cleveland's starters are shooting 2-for-11 from the field to start the contest. MIN 27, CLE 18

End Q1: The Wolves take a 25-16 lead into the second quarter. Nice first quarter for Kevin Love, who leads all scorers with 15 points on 6-of-11 shooting. Malcolm Lee has a team-high five rebounds, and Luke Ridnour has four assists. The Wolves have led from the start, but a big reason why is the Cavs' poor shooting from the field. They're shooting 27.3 percent tonight, and they are 28th in the league on the season. Minnesota, however is also struggling from the field and is shooting 36 percent. MIN 25, CLE 16

Q1 2:37: Kevin Love and Luke Ridnour are on the same page tonight. They connected on a nice tip pass early in the first, did so again on a flashy pass midway through the quarter and just a second ago Ridnour found Love for a wide open drive to the basket for 2. Love has 14 points and four boards already tonight, shooting 6-of-10 from the field. Wolves are up 22-13 despite shooting 38 percent from the field to start the night. MIN 22, CLE 13

Q1 9:24: Nice start for the Wolves tonight, led by Kevin Love. He's got 6 points on 3-of-3 shooting just 2 1/2 minutes into the game, and the Wolves have opened up an 8-0 lead early on in this one. Malcolm Lee has the other two points on a pair of free throws. Wolves ball after a Cavs' shot clock violation. Cleveland is 0-for-4 tonight to start the game, including 0-for-3 for Jeremy Pargo. MIN 8, CLE 0

Pregame 7:10 PM: Starting lineups for tonight:

Cavs: PG-Jeremy Pargo, SG-Daniel Gibson, SF-Alonzo Gee, PF-Tristan Thompson, C-Anderson Varejao

Timberwolves: PG-Luke Ridnour, SG-Malcolm Lee, SF-Andrei Kirilenko, PF-Kevin Love, C-Nikola Pekovic

Pregame 6:50 PM: Pepsi's Uncle Drew Chapter 2 video with Kevin Love playing Wes just played pregame here at Target Center, fitting as Kyrie Irving serves as the title character and he's in town tonight. Irving isn't playing because of a fractured left index finger. Just chatted with Byron Scott at shootaround today about that video, and Kevin Love also talked about it at length about the video today as well. Look for a feature on it tomorrow.

Starting lineups to follow.

Pregame 6:20: Greetings from Target Center, where the Wolves will face the Cavaliers tonight with tipoff at 7 p.m. Tonight's game is on Fox Sports North and 830 WCCO-AM, and be sure to follow along with our live blog and participate in tonight's live in-game chat above.

Cavaliers coach Byron Scott sees two traits in both Kevin Love and Anderson Varejao that make them elite rebounders: They play position basketball, and they attack the boards on every play.

Neither player jumps out of the gym, but both find themselves in position to make plays. It’s why Varejao enters the game leading the NBA with 15.4 boards per game and Love is posting 14.4 per night.

“Every time a shot goes up there, they feel the ball sit there and they go attack it,” Scott said. “I think it should prove to a lot of people that you don’t have to be the best athlete in the world to be a good rebounder. It has a lot to do with shear desire and energy and having a nose for the ball.”

The Cavaliers sit at 4-15 and are statistically near the bottom of the league in most offensive and defensive categories, but one spot they are No. 2 in the NBA is offensive rebounding. Varejao is a big reason for that, as he is best in the NBA individually with 6.1 per night. Tonight’s game will be a matchup of two of the very best in the NBA beneath the boards.

Wolves forward Kevin Love said Varejao is playing this season at a high level, and with the Cavs putting up the third most field goals per game this season, Varejao is making good on his opportunities to pull down rebounds.

There’s no secret ingredient, Love said, simply that Varejao is playing hard.

“He’s a guy that’s always played at a high level, and I think this year, I wouldn’t say he’s having a breakout season. He’s just really kind of upped his production.”

Scott said a reason for that is he’s playing with confidence and doing what Cleveland is asking him to do on a nightly basis.

“I’m just happy to see because he’s such a great guy and he plays so hard,” Scott said. “To see him start to get some of the recognition he deserved—he’s one of the best rebounders in the league, one of the best in that position for a big man in the league. It’s just good to see that he’s playing the way he’s playing.”

Wolves coach Rick Adelman said he sees the two rebounding with different styles, but they get similar results. Part of Varejao’s success is the way Scott’s system gets him in the middle of the floor and allows him room to go after the ball—utilizing his quickness and aggressiveness.

Here are a few pregame notes for tonight’s game:

  • The Wolves trail in the series, 15-28, and are 8-14 at home. Cleveland has won 10 of the last 12 meetings between the two clubs. The Wolves have cracked the 100-point mark just once in the last 15 games of the series.
  • The Wolves rank 5th in the NBA in scoring defense, allowing just 93.0 points per game, 11th in opponents' field goal percentage at 43.6% and 8th in blocked shots at 6.24 bpg.
  • Kevin Love has recorded a double-double in seven of the eight games he's played in this season. Over the last three seasons, he has recorded a double-double in 119 of his 138 games played.
  • Alexey Shved has scored in double-digits the last four games, averaging 15.3 ppg over that stretch. He has scored 92 of his 184 points in the fourth quarter this season. Overall, Shved ranks 4th among rookies in scoring (10.8) and 2nd in assists (3.6).
  • The Wolves rank 3rd in the NBA in free throw attempts per game (26.7) and have allowed the fewest free throw attempts (20.4). Minnesota has attempted 30+ FTs in a game seven times this season and allowed less than 20 FTs in a game nine times.
  • J.J. Barea has scored in double-digits the last three games, averaging 12.0 points, on 53.6% shooting, and 6.0 assists over that stretch.
  • Cleveland has a 4-15 record, including a 2-10 mark on the road. The Cavs are 1-7 versus Western Conference teams this year.
  • The Cavs rank last in the NBA in opponent's field goal percentage, allowing their opponents to shoot 48.5% from the field. Their own shooting percentage from the field of 41.5% ranks 28th in the league.
  • Cleveland ranks last in the NBA in blocked shots with 2.68 bpg. The Cavs have a blocked-shots-against average of 8.11 -- 2nd highest in the league.
  • Anderson Varejao ranks 1st in the NBA with 15.6 rebounds per game. He has grabbed 15 rebounds in 10 straight games, averaging 17.4 rpg over that span.
  • Varejao has scored 10+ points and grabbed 15+ rebounds, including at least five offensive boards, in 10 straight games. The only other player to have such a streak since 1973-74 is Moses Malone, who had a 12-game streak in 1978-79.

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