The Cleveland Cavaliers won their third game in their last four contests on Friday night as they defeated the Minnesota Timberwolves at the Target Center 98-87. Cleveland had six players in double-figures topped by veteran Antawn Jamison who knocked down 22 points for the night. The Cavaliers knew that they had nobody on their roster who could handle T-Wolves All-Star forward Kevin Love; so they attempted to shut down most of his teammate’s scoring ability. They did a pretty good job in that regard; as Minnesota was held to a mediocre 39.2% (31-79) from the field and an embarrassing 20% (4-20) from outside the arc. Love did have an outstanding performance, racking up yet another double-double with a game high 29 points, however he got far too little help from the rest of his squad for the Timberwolves to win in front of their home crowd.
Both clubs seem to have rebounded from a terrible campaign last season; as Minnesota had the worst record in the Association and Cleveland was just slightly better. However both teams have looked a lot sharper so far in the still young season. Rookies for both teams have been key factors with point guard Kyrie Irving and forward Tristan Thompson helping the Cavaliers and Ricky Rubio and Derrick Williams doing the same for the T-Wolves.
Minnesota took a three point lead with 3:03 remaining in the opening period when center Darko Milicic knocked down a shot making it a 22-19 contest. Cleveland would close out the quarter on a 9-2 run and at the end of the period they held the upper hand with the score 28-24. The Timberwolves would get within one point of their opponents in the second; but never could close the gap. Irving hit a pair at the line with two seconds to play and as the game reached the half the Cavaliers held a 52-45 advantage.
Any hopes that the home team would rally and win the game in the second half were pretty much dashed in the third as Minnesota never got closer than trailing by seven points. Ramon Sessions would put his club up by double digits with two seconds left in the quarter when he drained a jumper; was fouled on the play and hit his shot at the line. Heading into the fourth Cleveland led 76-64. The Timberwolves never came close to being a threat in the last 12 minutes of play and the Cavaliers won the game with ease.
Jamison had 22 points, 6 rebounds, 2 blocks and a steal while Irving put up 14 points, 5 assists, 5 rebounds and a block. Anderson Varejao notched a double-double with 13 points, 12 rebounds, 5 assists, 4 steals and 2 blocks while Sessions, Daniel Gibson and Alonzo Gee all came off the bench chipping in 11 points apiece.
Love knocked down 24 points and grabbed 14 boards while Williams came off the bench with 12 points, 4 rebounds, 2 blocks, an assist and a steal. Milicic scored 11 points, 4 rebounds, a block and a steal while Rubio added 10 points, 5 assists and 2 rebounds. Cleveland improves to 4-3 and will head to Portland to face the Trail Blazers on Sunday while Minnesota falls to 2-5 and they will take on the Wizards in Washington on Sunday.