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Timberwolves 100, Cavaliers 92

The SportsXchange

CLEVELAND -- The Minnesota Timberwolves were playing without five injured players, including All-Star power forward Kevin Love and valuable forward Andrei Kirilenko.

They came into the game having lost four in a row, 10 of their last 11 and 15 of their last 17. Included in all that carnage was an eight-game losing streak on the road.

Yet they came into Quicken Loans Arena on Monday night and downed the Cavaliers 100-92.

It was quite an embarrassing moment for the Cavs, who had won three of their last four games.

The T-Wolves shot 75 percent from the field in the fourth quarter (12 of 16) to leave the Cavs (16-36) in their wake. The Cavs were helpless trying to stop the likes of 6-foot-2 Luke Ridnour.

All five starters scored in double figures for the T-Wolves (19-30). Ridnour led all scorers with 21 points and three assists.

Bruising center Nikola Pekovic had 16 points and a game-high 10 rebounds, and guard Ricky Rubio added 13 points and a game-high 10 assists.

The Cavs' defense has been a problem all season. They rank near the bottom in almost every major category, including opponents' field-goal percentage. They are last at 47.6 percent.

For the Cavs, All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving had 20 points, four rebounds and seven assists. He was 9 of 20 from the field.

Power forward Tristan Thompson had 16 points and nine rebounds, and guard Dion Waiters had 12 points on 6 of 6 field-goal shooting.

Both teams shot well from the field. The T-Wolves hit 52 percent from the floor and 57 percent from behind the arc (8 of 14). The Cavs shot 50.6 percent from the field.

Minnesota outrebounded the Cavs 36-31.

The T-Wolves outscored the Cavs 28-27 in the fourth quarter.

The short-handed Timberwolves outscored the Cavs 23-19 in the third quarter. They had a seven-point bulge heading into the fourth quarter at 72-65.

Forward Derrick Williams had 10 of his 12 points in the third quarter. He was the No. 2 pick in the 2011 draft, one behind Irving.

The Cavs had five turnovers in the third quarter, 20 for the game.

The T-Wolves took a 49-46 advantage at halftime. They used balanced scoring to open a three-point lead.

Guard Alexey Shved had 10 of his 12 points in the first half. Forward Mickael Gelabale added eight points, and the 6-11 Pekovic and Rubio each had seven.

For the Cavs, Thompson had 10 points, five rebounds and two blocks in the first half.

Cleveland also got good play from their backcourt. Irving had nine points and three assists and Waiters eight points on 4-of-4 shooting from the field. Waiters had four of the Cavs' 13 turnovers in the first half.

Irving, though, limped off the court with just seconds remaining in the first half. He landed on Shved's foot on a play under the basket. He came out for the second half, though, with no problems.

The Cavs shot 53 percent from the field in the first half compared with 43 percent for the Timberwolves.

Notes: Cavs center Tyler Zeller has reached double figures in scoring just once in his previous nine games. He hasn't had 10 or more rebounds in any of his previous six games. His trusty 15-foot jumper has also abandoned him. Cavs coach Byron Scott isn't worried. "Most rookies have to go through this," he said. "All these things will make him a better basketball player. He's going through a tough stretch. I know him as a person. He's taking this personal. He'll be a better player next year. I guarantee it." ... Scott said he challenged Irving to a 3-point shootout after practice on Tuesday at Cleveland Clinic Courts. Irving has been invited to the Three-Point Contest during All-Star weekend in Houston. Scott competed in the event twice -- a last-place finish in 1987 and a third-place performance in '88. "I challenged him today," Scott said. "He's talking a lot. I think I have a good shot at (beating him)." Irving said he read where Scott challenged him. "That's something a third-place winner would do, go behind my back and challenge me," he said. ... Cavs forward Alonzo Gee scored 15 points in the first six minutes of the Denver game on Saturday. The last Cavs player to do that was Lamond Murray against the Lakers on Jan. 12, 2001. ... Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman said he hopes to get forward Andrei Kirilenko (strained right quadriceps) back after the All-Star break. "It's not just people," Adelman said. "It's the quality of the people. There are a lot of points sitting on the bench." The losing is starting to wear on the Timberwolves. "They are definitely feeling it," Adelman said. "When you go through a series of things we've gone through, it wears on you. They are human. This league doesn't do you any favors."
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