The 5-21 Minnesota Timberwolves strolled into Cleveland to take on the NBA’s latest edition of a “Big Three” to take on the Cavaliers. That of course meant it was the Wolves’ first meeting with ex-Pup Kevin Love. The Cavs have been somewhat disappointing so far this season with a 16-10 record and playing a methodical pace of basketball under new head coach, David Blatt.
The Pups opened up with Zach LaVine, Shabazz Muhammad, Andrew Wiggins, Thad Young, and Gorgui Dieng. Cleveland countered with Kyrie Irving, another ex-Pup Mike Miller, LeBron James, Love, and Anderson Varejao.
Cleveland won the opening tip and quickly went down to the post to Love, who subsequently blew a layup (instead of dunking the ball …). The Wolves went to Wiggins early and he responded with an early bucket and helped draw two of the three quick fouls called against Mike Miller. Heading into the game’s first timeout, the Cavs held a 14-9 advantage.
At the end of the first quarter, the Cavs held a 27-26 advantage in a back and forth quarter that saw six lead changes. The Wolves were led by Wiggins (11 points) and Dieng (6 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 steals) in the opening frame. Love finished the first quarter with 7 points, 2 rebounds, and 2 assists.
If there is an intriguing storyline or subplot to keep an eye on over the next few weeks/months, it is what becomes of Chase Budinger. Chase has shown signs of life over the past two weeks and may be rounding into form. He opened up the second quarter by hitting his first two buckets for five points. (Note: He also entered towards the end of the third quarter and that is, where you will find, the unraveling of the game for the Pups.)
With a little less than six minutes left in the half, the Cavs went on a mini-run and opened up a 9 point lead, 46-37. Cleveland’s ‘Big Three’ led the charge, assisting and/or scoring on just about every bucket the Cavs scored up to that point in the quarter. However, Wiggins and the Wolves came right back, going on an 11-4 run to cut the Cavs lead to two points (50-48) and forcing David Blatt to call a timeout. Cleveland answered the call and went on a 7-2 run to open up another five point lead. At the half, the Cavs held a 64-56 lead.
The third quarter wasn’t a banner quarter for the Cavs as Love and Varejao both went down with injuries and to the locker room. Love would return to the floor just minutes later. At the same time, Andrew Wiggins was heating up, scoring or assisting on five of the club’s first seven baskets in the quarter. After cutting the Cavs lead to one point, James and Irving hit back to back three points to open up the lead once again.
Unfortunately, the close (and good) game seemed to end towards the end of the third quarter. Cleveland went on a 16-1 run and held a 96-79 advantage heading into the final frame.
The fourth quarter was unfortunately more of the same from the final few minutes of the third. The Cavs essentially imposed their will on the Wolves and were able to maintain their double digit lead throughout. The final score: Cleveland 125, Minnesota 104.
- Anderson Varejao was reported to have a left ankle injury and didn’t return to the court on Tuesday night. According to the Cavs broadcast, he will be reevaluated on Wednesday.
- Kevin Love finished with 20 points and 10 rebounds, his 15th double-double of the season.
- Andrew Wiggins finished the game with a team high 27 points on 9-16 shooting from the floor.
- Anthony Bennett probably had the worst game of his career and certainly his worst performance in a Wolves uniform. He finished the game with 0 points on 0-4 shooting, poor defense, and was -27 in the +/- column.
- You likely have already seen this, but Flip Saunders told Jon Krawczynski the following ahead of Tuesday night’s game regarding Kevin Love:
“Minnesota people are pretty loyal. You turn on Minnesota, they don’t forgive you,” Saunders said after practice on Monday. “So I think people probably appreciated him while he was here. But you leave under the terms that he did, just the way Minnesota people are, they’re not pretty forgiving along those lines.”