Wolves Dominate Cavaliers, 124-95
Wolves Dominate Cavaliers, 124-95
Take away a guy who is averaging 24.6 points per game from the lineup?
No problem for the Timberwolves.
At least that was the case on Wednesday night at the Target Center. Minutes before the game against the Cleveland Cavaliers, the team announced shooting guard Kevin Martin would not play due to flu-like symptoms.
Robbie Hummel started for Martin, and a trio of Ricky Rubio, Corey Brewer and Kevin Love picked up the slack — and then some — for the Timberwolves as they came away with a 124-95 win.
“Terrific game for our guys,” said Wolves coach Rick Adelman. “Came out from the start and they carried it through, the first three quarters especially. We moved the ball around the court, had a lot of energy, 34 assists and low on turnovers. That’s huge.”
Wolves vs. Cavaliers
The hidden treasure in the blowout win was the fact that the Wolves didn’t have to play their starters nearly as much as the last two games. The Minnesota bench has been subpar for the Wolves as of late, but the starters did enough on Wednesday night to make up for that.
Adelman was able to limit all of his starters besides Rubio and Love to less than 30 minutes.
Brewer did his best Martin impression, as he scored his team’s first nine points of the game. He went on to score 27 on the night, which marked a season high.
The turning point in the first quarter came after a Kyrie Irving face injury. The All-Star point guard went down with a face injury with 4:48 left in the first. After that, the Wolves went on a 13-0 run, which helped them gain a commanding 37-24 lead after the first.
Irving would return, but it was too late. The Wolves advanced their lead to 70-47 at half. In fact, Minnesota scored 30 or more points in three of the four quarters. The fourth quarter was played with most of the team’s second unit.
Brewer wasn’t the only hot hand for the Wolves.
Love led all scorers with 33 point and did so on just 16 field goals. Rubio scored 16 points to go along with 16 assists.
More on these three in a bit.
Hummel’s first career start was a good one. The former Purdue star finished with 10 points and four rebounds while shooting 4-of-6 from the field. Pekovic also added 10 points to go with seven rebounds.
“He's kind of like a glue guy,” Adelman said of Hummel after the game. “I knew he was going to fit in with the starters. I had a lot of confidence (in him).”
That’s saying a lot for a guy who was on the brink of even making the team a month ago.
Cleveland was led by Irving, who finished with 20 points.
Anderson Varejao and Tristan Thompson added 13 and 10 points, respectively.
The Wolves now sit at 6-3 overall, which is good for fourth place in the Western Conference. The win not only showed that Minnesota can survive a game without one of its top scorers, but also proved that they it might have another rotation guy in Hummel, something Adelman’s been hinting at for some time.
“Obviously we play better when we have all of our players,” Love said. “But you know, when K-Mart was out, someone else had to step up.”
Leader(s) of the Pack: Corey Brewer, Ricky Rubio, Kevin Love
My, oh, my… Where to begin?
Well, the normally defensive-minded Brewer filled in very nicely for Martin, finishing with 27 points while shooting a perfect 5-of-5 from behind the 3-point line. His career-high in points for his career is 29 and is six for 3-pointers. Chances are Timberwolves are just fine with his numbers, though.
“He’s been playing so well,” Adelman said. “He’s 5-for-5 on 3s and he was all over the court. But I like the way everyone played. We followed the game plan. We really moved.”
Love finished with 33 points, eight rebounds and six assists while shooting 10-of-16 from the field. Sure, the double-double machine didn’t get another double-double, but those 33 points isn’t too shabby. Love even had some MVP chants late in the third quarter.
“The energy he plays with is carrying over to everyone else,” Adelman said.
Finally, there is Rubio. Rubio finished with 16 points and a career-high 16 assists to go along with six rebounds. Rubio was 5-of-7 from the field and a perfect 5-of-5 from the free-throw line. His night matched his fourth double-double of the season and his sixth 10+ assist game of the season.
with John Focke
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“We just came out to a great start again. We knew K-Mart was out. We all played well, we all rebounded well and I mean, Ricky was awesome tonight,” Love said.
This trifecta had the Target Center on its feet all night. Basketball is fun again in Minnesota, folks.
Highlight of the Night
With 6:57 left in the first quarter, Brewer intercepted an inbound pass from No. 1 overall pick Anthony Bennett. Brewer then went up for an easy layup, giving the Wolves a 53-31 lead. Brewer had things going on both ends of the court.
The Numbers Game
Quote of the Night
“You know, I think a lot of it is effort. We’re not always going to get off to starts like that, but I think at any given time we can make runs like that. It’s just something we might not have necessarily had in the past. We’re playing both sides of the ball, that’s something that definitely helps as well.” – Kevin Love on his team’s 38-point first quarter.
The Wolves will hit the road on Friday to battle the Denver Nuggets at 7 p.m. on ESPN and WCCO 830-AM. There isn’t much time at all before the Wolves hop back on the plane and head back to the Target Center to take on the Boston Celtics at 7 p.m. on Fox Sports North and WCC0 830-AM.
For more news and notes on the team follow the Minnesota Timberwolves and Mark Remme on Twitter, and join the conversation at WolvesNation.com