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Wolves Hold On To Road Win In Cleveland
Well, the Wolves had to continue the trend of testing the nerves of Minnesota sports fans on Sunday.
After the Vikings pulled off an overtime playoff win against the New Orleans Saints Sunday afternoon, the Wolves followed suit by making things interesting in the fourth quarter of their away game against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
But like the Vikings, the Wolves secured a win.
The Wolves entered the fourth quarter of Sunday’s game with a 94-79 lead but allowed the Cavs to go on a 32-6 run and watched their lead slip away. However, they had a solid response and pulled out a 118-103 win, giving them their 14th win of the season.
The Cavs took a 97-96 lead after Dante Exum hit his second 3-pointer of the quarter, but the Wolves answered with veterans Andrew Wiggins and Gorgui Dieng who combined for 13 points in the final eight minutes, 11 seconds of the game. Wiggins wasn’t particularly efficient in his first game back from his four-game hiatus (flu-like symptoms), but he found multiple ways to positively impact the game when the Wolves needed him most. Wiggins finished with 15 points, seven rebounds, four assists and two steals and refused to let his team fold when the Cavs put together a late run.
Waiting until the sixth paragraph of this recap to point out Dieng’s contributions feels wrong. Dieng was solid on both ends of the court once again. He finished with a team-high 22 points (eight of which came after the Cavs took their fourth-quarter lead) but didn’t stop there. Dieng added a game-high 13 rebounds, six assists and a game-high four blocks. Dieng has certainly stepped up for the Wolves during Karl-Anthony Towns’ (knee) absence, and I hope to see his leadership and confidence stay this sound even when Towns returns.
Dieng may have been the player of the night, but overall, it was a full-team effort that allowed the Wolves to earn their ninth road win of the season. Every Minnesota player that earned playing time in the first half had at least one point at halftime, and they finished with 32 assists, which is their second-best assist total of the season (33 at Washington on Nov. 2).
Additionally, it was great to see Jarrett Culver and Shabazz Napier continue to play aggressively even with Wiggins and Teague back in the lineup. The two guards combined for 35 points on 14-for-21 shooting along with 10 total assists. Napier accounted for 21 of those 35 points and has now recorded four 20-plus-point games in a row for the first time in his career. He’s been tremendous as of late.
For Culver, this was up there for best all-around games we’ve seen from him in the first 35 games of his career. The rookie led the Wolves in scoring in the first half, scored seven points in the first seven minutes of the game, and was instrumental in shutting Exum down in the fourth quarter after he recorded 13 points in the first three and a half minutes of the final frame.
Robert Covington was also solid with 15 points, four rebounds, four steals, two assists, and a momentum-shifting steal at the 7:45 mark of the fourth quarter.
It wasn’t pretty all 48 minutes, but the Wolves pulled it off and looked much improved since the last time they played the Cavs just a mere eight days ago. Not to mention, the Wolves are now just half a game out of eighth place in the Western Conference standings. They’ll have another chance to move up in the standings on Tuesday when they travel to Memphis for a 7 p.m. CT road game against the Grizzlies. Fans can tune in on Fox Sports North and 830 WCCO.