Cavaliers Hand Wolves Second Straight Defeat
Wolves Editorial/Social Media Associate
Whether or not five games in eight days took its toll, the Minnesota Timberwolves didn’t look like the same team Friday in a 98-87 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers at Target Center.
The Wolves, who showed resiliency and grit during some of their earlier games during that stretch—including contests with elite teams in both the Eastern and Western Conferences—fell flat on Friday with little answer for a Cavaliers team that kept attacking.
In the end, it resulted in a loss that nearly equaled the team’s 13-point differential in its previous four losses this year.
"I thought it was the first game we just really let them outplay us," coach Rick Adelman said. "They did a good job on both ends, they attacked us on the pick and roll and they moved the ball. We’ve got to have more people play at a higher level, especially at the offensive end. We're just so hit-and-miss right now; we have to find a way.”
Wolves forward Kevin Love again led the way, scoring 29 points and adding 14 assists for his seventh straight double-double. He’s recorded at least 20 points and 12 assists in all seven games this year.
But from the start Minnesota seemed off balance, rushed and somewhat fatigued. The Wolves finished 31-of-79 from the floor, shot just 4-of-20 beyond the arc and connected for 21-of-31 shots at the line on the night.
“I told them afterwards, no one said this was going to be easy and they're going to have to tough-it-out,” Adelman said. “Go on the road and try to get a win—just keep plugging along.”
The Cavs (4-3) took an early but the Wolves stayed within reach as center Darko Milicic scored 11 of the Wolves' 24 first-quarter points, while Love added nine points in the quarter to keep Minnesota within reach at 28-24.
Milicic said he and his team need to understand each night is a new night and each game is battle.
“It doesn’t matter who we play against. Everybody is playing basketball, everybody is making shots,” Milicic said. "For us to think some games are going to be easy and some games are going to be not, we can’t do that. Every game is going to be the same for us. We’re not that kind of team where we can just come out and feel like we can get an easy win."
Cleveland worked for every basket during the game, finding ways to get open looks while making it difficult for the Wolves to do the same.
Antawn Jamison scored 22 points, while rookie Kyrie Irving added 14 points to lead the Cavaliers.
Wolves rookie Derrick Williams, the No. 2 pick in last June’s draft behind Irving, put together a strong performance with 12 points and four rebounds. He was perfect from the floor in the first half and 4-for-5 from the line overall.
Minnesota forward Michael Beasley finished with nine points and 12 assists, Darko Milicic had 11 points and Ricky Rubio finished with 10 points and five assists. Beasley suffered a right mid foot sprain in the game. X-rays were normal and he will be evaluated Saturday.
Adelman, whose starting lineup has remained constant through seven games despite using a vast rotation throughout each contest, said his rotations weren’t working on this night.
"I was trying to find any group to play through it; we just were really out of sync," Adelman said. "Their whole team is physical, and we kind of caved into teams that have done that. Memphis did that to us, and the same thing happened. You have to fight through that.”
Guard Wes Johnson agreed. With three games in three days coming up—beginning Sunday in Washington—he knows the Wolves need to keep their focus and get back on track.
"We’ve just got to watch film, go to practice and try to turn it around," Johnson said. "We can’t dwell on this and start running off losses in a row. But I think our mindset is focused on getting better, and I think it’s going to turn around quick."
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