Love, Wolves dismantle reeling Cavaliers, 129-95By JON KRAWCZYNSKI, AP Sports Writer Saturday, Dec 4, 2010
MINNEAPOLIS (AP)—It was hard to imagine the Cleveland Cavaliers sinking much lower than they did Thursday night, when LeBron James(notes) came into his old home and delivered a cold-blooded performance that tore apart the team and the town.
A 36-point loss to the lowly Minnesota Timberwolves on Saturday night? That just might qualify.
Love had 28 points and 19 rebounds and the Minnesota Timberwolves snapped a six-game losing streak with a 129-95 victory over Cleveland on Saturday night, two nights after the Cavs were thrashed by James.
Like LeBron in his homecoming Thursday night, Love did all his damage in three quarters and the Timberwolves hit a franchise-record 18 3-pointers to blow out the Cavaliers despite missing leading scorer Michael Beasley(notes).
Antawn Jamison(notes) had 17 points and Ramon Sessions(notes) added 18 for the Cavs, who had no energy or drive against a team that was playing on the second night of a back-to-back and entered the game tied for the fewest wins in the NBA.
“I think it’s time to look in the mirror and just say we’re playing bad basketball,” Jamison said. “It’s not who we’re playing, it’s us. And it’s going to get out of hand if we don’t find a way to solve the problem and start playing the right way.”
“Those kinds of numbers are crazy numbers,” coach Kurt Rambis said.
Cleveland starting forwards J.J. Hickson(notes) and Joey Graham(notes) stayed back at the team hotel because of illness, and the Wolves devoured the Cavs on the glass all night long. The Cavs shot 38.6 percent and were outrebounded 46-29 by the Timberwolves (5-15), who led by 31 points after three quarters.
“Effort, execution, determination, pride, heart, everything,” Cavs coach Byron Scott said in listing what was wrong.
The Cavs have lost their last three games by a combined 81 points, including a 118-90 destruction at the hands of their former King on Thursday night in Cleveland.
In James’ first game back at Quicken Loans Arena since humiliating the city of Cleveland by dumping it on national television and going to the Miami Heat, he had 38 points in three quarters in front of a hometown crowd that was frothing at the mouth for redemption.
His former team didn’t show any of that same fervor, bowing to James and the Heat.
They entered Target Center on Saturday night against a Timberwolves that was finding a new way to lose every night. Beasley was out with a sprained ankle and key reserve Anthony Tolliver(notes) missed the game with a sprained MCL in his right knee.
Even without their most dynamic offensive player, the Wolves surged out of the gates. They shot 70 percent and scored a season-high 37 points in the first quarter to take a 13-point lead.
They made 11 of their first 12 3-pointers, with the only miss in that stretch Ellington’s halfcourt heave at the first-quarter buzzer. The Wolves led by 25 with just over 2 minutes to play in the half, but the Cavs closed with an 8-2 spurt to get it to 19 at the break.
The youngest team in the league has made a habit of blowing big leads early this season, giving away two 21-point third-quarter advantages in losses earlier this quarter, and the 14-pointer to the Spurs on Friday.
“I think the best part about today is we were only focused on this game,” Love said, “not worrying about the losing streak or really anything else.”
But the Wolves led by as many as 40 in the fourth quarter and Love posted at least 20 points and 17 rebounds in a game for the fifth time in the last six games.
“His effort in the last several ballgames, it’s unnatural almost the kind of numbers he’s been putting up,” Rambis said.
NOTES: Darko Milicic(notes) had 14 points, nine boards and three blocks and was a plus-41 for Minnesota, the highest such number for a Wolves player since 2001. … Beasley is day-to-day and Tolliver will get an MRI on Monday. … Wolves rookie C Nikola Pekovic(notes) played for the first time in 10 games because of a sprained left foot and had seven points and seven rebounds in 12 minutes.