James looks to continue his recent scoring surge when the Eastern Conference-leading Cavaliers go for their ninth straight win over the Timberwolves on Wednesday night.
Cleveland (34-11) extended its winning streak to five Monday, beating Miami 92-91 after James hit two free throws with 4.1 seconds left. The reigning MVP finished with 32 points and was able to sink the critical free throws despite a scary fall and blow to the head after colliding with Dwyane Wade(notes).
“For him to get up after that collision and knock down two free throws the way that he did, he’s got ice water in his veins, baby,” Cleveland coach Mike Brown said. “Ice water.”
James is averaging 35.4 points over the last eight games, during which he’s gone up against many of the NBA’s better clubs, including Denver, Portland, Utah and the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Cavaliers haven’t had too many close contests against the Timberwolves (9-37) recently, however. Since November 2005, Cleveland has won the last eight meetings with the Western Conference’s worst club, a run that includes three straight at home by an average of 15.3 points.
The Timberwolves are scoring 83.4 points during their losing streak to Cleveland.
James is pouring in 29.4 points per game in his career against Minnesota, and tallied 24 in a 104-87 road win on Oct. 30 when he spent most of the fourth quarter on the bench.
A visit to Quicken Loans Arena probably won’t cure Minnesota’s road woes. The Timberwolves lost their fourth straight overall—and fell to 3-20 away from home—following a 132-105 drubbing by the New York Knicks on Tuesday.
Coach Kurt Rambis’ club was outscored 40-16 in the first quarter and trailed by as many as 36.
“We got out to an awful start and it carried over through the entire ballgame,” Rambis said. “It just wasn’t there for us, all over the place.”
It was the Timberwolves’ eighth loss in nine games overall and eighth straight on the road. Minnesota’s last three road losses have been by an average of 28.3 points.
After a 33-point defeat at Milwaukee on Saturday, Rambis started Ryan Gomes(notes) in place of Kevin Love(notes), but the move didn’t work. Love, who came in averaging 15.2 points and 12.2 rebounds, was held to six and five, respectively, in 17:30.
He missed the game against the Cavaliers in October due to a fractured left hand that caused him to sit out the first 18 games.