CLEVELAND (AP)—In the final minute, the Timberwolves needed someone to step up, and someone to make a big shot. Instead, they got two of each.
Kevin Garnett and Marko Jaric made jumpers in the final minute, barely beating the 24-second shot clock both times, as Minnesota downed the Cleveland Cavaliers 89-85 Saturday night for its first road win.
“Kevin’s basket was the back breaker,” Minnesota coach Dwane Casey said of Garnett’s crucial basket with 56.9 seconds remaining. “That’s in our playbook, and we executed it perfectly.”
LeBron James scored a season-high 38 points, but the Cavs shot only 32 percent and lost for the first time in seven games at home. Drew Gooden had 12 points and 12 rebounds for Cleveland, which has dropped two straight following an eight-game winning streak.
Garnett scored 26 points and Troy Hudson 18—all in the second half—for the Timberwolves, who came in 0-4 away from home. Wally Szczerbiak added 16 points and Eddie Griffin had 12 rebounds for Minnesota.
“It feels really good to get that off our back,” Griffin said of finally getting a road victory. “Now we can just go play.”
James didn’t get much help from his teammates, as Larry Hughes (3-for-16), Zydrunas Ilgauskas (2-for-10) Donyell Marshall (0-for-9), and Damon Jones (0-for-6)—a free-agent foursome that cost the Cavs $151 million in contracts this summer—shot a combined 5-for-41 and scored 22 points.
“We missed shot after shot after shot, wide open shots,” James said. “There are going to be nights like that.”
Still, the score was tied at 82 when Garnett took an inbounds pass off a designed play with 2 seconds left on the 24-second clock. He casually stepped back and dropped a high-arcing 21-foot jumper over Gooden.
“I just knew the play all the way,” Garnett said. “I got it up with some extra loft on it. It was an easy shot.”
Marshall misfired on Cleveland’s next possession, and Jaric made the Cavs pay by hitting a 19-footer from the right corner with the clock shot expiring to make it 86-82 with 16 seconds left.
Jones missed again for Cleveland, and Hudson’s free throw made it 87-82 with 11 seconds to play. James hit a fall-away 3-pointer with 5.9 seconds remaining, but Hudson iced it with a pair of free throws.
“We had our chances toward the end, but we didn’t make shots,” Gooden said. “They made shots.”
Hughes, Jones and Marshall, signed to improve the club’s suspect outside shooting, went a combined 1-for-18 and scored just five points in the first half.
Hughes’ three-point play—his second field goal—put the Cavs ahead 65-60 late in the third. James, who during one stretch scored 15 of Cleveland’s 18 points, then punctuated an 11-point third quarter with a soaring dunk over Griffin.
James drove the lane, took off on the left side and delivered a vicious, right-handed slam.
“He really is something,” Garnett said of James. “He not only has met all those incredible expectations, he has blown them out of the water. He has built the expectations for the next generation.”
With his teammates struggling from the floor, James took it upon himself to carry the scoring load and had 19 points—nine on 3-pointers—in the first half.
Garnett’s four assists moved him past Paul Westphal (3,591) into 100th place on the career assists list. He’s two behind Earl “The Pearl” Monroe. … The Cavs successfully stopped Seattle from using Brendan Malone, the club’s interim coach last season, as a consultant. Malone, whose son, Michael, is an assistant on Cleveland’s staff, is still under contract and being paid by the Cavs. The club agreed before the season to allow Malone to help Sonics coach Bob Weiss, but the Cavs felt Malone was acting more like an assistant coach— staying on the bench and running some practices. … Szczerbiak, a 90-percent free throw shooter, missed two straight in the second quarter.