Love Scores 36 As Wolves Beat Cavs 91-73
Web Editorial Associate
Defense carried the Minnesota Timberwolves as they advanced to a 9-9 record with a 91-73 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday night.
“It's just a win we really needed,” coach Rick Adelman said. “We really needed to get something going here, and we gutted it out."
Wolves vs Cavaliers
The Wolves held their opponent to a season-low shooting percentage as the Cavs finished with a 34.5 percent rate. Only two players for Cleveland scored in double digits, and its highest-scoring healthy player—Anderson Varejao—was held to only four points on 2-of-10 shooting.
Forward Kevin Love had a big night, logging 36 points and grabbing 13 rebounds. He started off with a bang, scoring 15 first-quarter points en route to his 11th career game of 35-plus points.
“We were messing around with him, telling him ‘he’s back,’” JJ Barea said with a smile. “But it’s good that he’s having fun. He had fun out there tonight, he looked great. Hopefully now we can say he’s back.”
The game was scrappy and fast-paced with both teams hustling up and down the floor. Luke Ridnour had four of his seven assists during the first quarter, two of which were behind-the-back passes. Ridnour also finished with 12 points on the night.
“It was just a good rhythm game for everybody,” Ridnour said. “Early on in the game we got going and got some easy stops. It was good to see everybody come out and play hard, play together; that’s how we like to play.”
The Wolves led at half by a 44-37 margin, but the Cavaliers climbed back within six points at the beginning of the fourth quarter in a comeback attempt. A 3-pointer from Barea (who ended with 10 points) helped ignite a 13-2 run that sealed the game.
“They’re a team that’s going to keep fighting,” Barea said, “but I think we stuck with it. I think we did a great job defensively tonight. In the fourth quarter we made a run and took the game.”
Alonzo Gee—who had several highlight-reel dunks—led the Cavaliers with 16 points on the night. Reserve guard C.J. Miles had 13 of his own, and Donald Sloan also added 10.
“We didn't shoot it real well, and they played good defense,” Cleveland coach Byron Scott said. “Right now, we just seem to be hesitating on the open shots we do have. We are just not playing with a whole lot of confidence."
Wolves forward Andrei Kirilenko had an especially well-rounded statistical line, posting eight points, seven rebounds, six assists, four steals and three blocks.
Leader of the Pack: Kevin Love
In just his ninth game returning from a broken hand, Love put on a show with 36 points on 10-of-19 shooting—his highest total of the year so far. He also grabbed 13 rebounds, leading his team back to a .500 mark.
"He shot the ball well,” Adelman said. “He was very active tonight, and he really made the difference. He got the free-throw line 18 times, so for the most part we were attacking the basket all night long."
Highlight of the Night
At the 8:24 mark in the first quarter, the Wolves were on a roll. Malcolm Lee launched a 3-point shot from the corner, only to have it spin out. Love went in for the rebound and ended up tipping it out to Ridnour, who then tipped it back to Love. Love finished with a two-handed flush and the Wolves went on to finish the quarter up, 25-16.
The Numbers Game
Quote of the Night
“We just have to do a better job; 18 assists and 21 turnovers is not going to do it normally. They had 22 of their points on our turnovers. I thought it wasn't so much what they did but we were just very casual with the ball and made poor decisions."— Wolves coach Rick Adelman
The Wolves take a four-day break before they resume play against Denver on Wednesday. They then travel south to visit the Hornets in New Orleans on December 14.