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Cavaliers-Timberwolves Preview

AP - Sports

Minnesota followed a lopsided victory with a narrow defeat, letting a very winnable game slip away.

The Timberwolves also came up just short against the Cleveland Cavaliers last week, but they appear to have a good chance to avenge that loss Wednesday night.

Minnesota returns home to face the Cavaliers, who are still seeking their first victory as the visiting team.

After snapping a 22-game losing streak against the Los Angeles Lakers with Sunday's 113-90 rout, the Timberwolves fell 109-107 to the Clippers on Monday. Minnesota, which trailed by 11 midway through the fourth quarter, missed three shots over the final three seconds, including a point-blank tip by Kevin Love as time expired.

"My natural instinct was to try to rush it and get it up there, but it sat on the rim and came right off. I would say 99 times out of a hundred times that goes in," said Love, who finished with 23 points, 19 rebounds and seven assists. "We're a very good team when we are fighting back and this was another great learning experience for us."

The Timberwolves (5-3) found themselves in a similar spot last Monday during a 93-92 loss at Cleveland. After falling behind by as many as 23, Minnesota had a chance to win but Love's 3-point attempt with 1.9 seconds left bounced off the back rim.

"We'll take that shot every time," teammate Kevin Martin said. "The best power forward in the league with a great look to win the game. We just dug too big of a hole early to pull it out at the end."

Minnesota, though, could have the edge this time around. The Cavaliers (3-5) have averaged 84.4 points on 38.4 percent shooting in losing each of their first five games in opposing arenas, their worst road start since opening 0-13 in 2003-04.

In Chicago on Monday, Cleveland turned the ball over 20 times leading to 29 points for the Bulls in a 96-81 loss. Kyrie Irving had 16 points on 5-of-19 from the field and Jarrett Jack missed all six of his shot attempts

"The whole game we just didn't execute. We didn't deserve to win," Jack said. "We just need to learn to play better on the road."

Getting Andrew Bynum more involved could help Cleveland turn things around, but he won't play Wednesday after being excused from the team to address "a family medical matter."

The oft-injured center made his first start and played a season-high 21 minutes against the Bulls, posting 11 points and six rebounds. Bynum will also miss Friday's game against Charlotte and is expected to rejoin the team Saturday in Washington.

Excluding a 127-125 double-overtime win over Philadelphia on Saturday, the Cavaliers have surrendered an average of 94.9 points in their other seven games. They held Love to a season-low 17 points on 8-of-20 shooting last week.

Love, averaging team highs of 26.4 points and 15.0 rebounds, is also dishing out 5.0 assists per contest - significantly higher than his career mark of 2.0.

Martin has gone 22 for 36 (61.1 percent) from 3-point range while averaging 27.5 points in the last six contests. He is averaging 25.3 in nine matchups versus Cleveland since 2007-08, tied for his second-highest mark against any team over that stretch.

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