Kevin Love finally got his shooting back on track in a big way and finished with 36 points and 13 rebounds as the TWolves manhandled the Cavaliers 91-73.
The Cavs are without their two leading scorers (Kyrie Irving--fractured finger & Dion Waiter--sprained ankle) and it was clear that the Cavs offense struggled mightily scoring the ball.
The TWolves outscored the Cavs 25-16 in both the first and fourth quarters as Minnesota cruised to it's ninth win of the season and push their record back to .500 on the season.
Andrei Kirilenko returned to action and gave the Wolves a big boost in his return with another all-around game: 8pts, 7reb, 6ast, 4stls, 3blks. His back issues will likely be a lingering issue throughout the season, but here's hoping that his time missed is kept to a minimum as the Wolves are clearly a much better team (on both ends of the floor) with AK on the court.
The Wolves held the Cavs to just 73 points tonight (a new season-worst for a TWolves opponent) the Wolves are now allowing just 91.9 points a game for opponents. I don't know for sure (and won't until tomorrow), but chances are good that the Wolves now boast a Top 2 or 3 defense in the NBA (could be #1 for all I know!). To say they've improved from last season would be the biggest understatement, ever.
Let's take a look at some of tonight's key players...
HOT: Kevin Love! Kevin found his shooting touch tonight as he set new season-highs in points (36), free throws made (14) and attempted (18), while also tying season-highs in threes made (2), offensive rebounds (6) and blocks (1). Hopefully he can continue shooting the ball well, clearly the results speak for themselves--big nights for Love=TWolves wins.
NOT: Anderson Varejo and the Cavalier offense. Varejo was on a double-double streak. With another double-double tonight he would've tied the Cavs' franchise record for consecutive DD's, the TWolves D held him to just 4pts on 20% shooting from the field. Without their two leading scorers (Irving & Waiters) Cleveland scored a season-worst (for a MIN opponent) 73pts.
MISC. STATS: Andrei Kirilenko had another GREAT all-around game, he finished with a season-high 4 steals in this one.....Malcolm Lee tied season & career highs in free throws made (4) and attempted (6). While setting new season/career-highs in defensive (8) and total rebounds (8).....
Let's take a look at the team stats...
The Minnesota Timberwolves finally hit their free throws, yes they still left eight points at the line, but thanks to a 14-for-18 night from Kevin Love, the TWolves got (somewhat) back on track from their struggles at the charity stripe. The Wolves held an advantage on the boards (+12) and although the Wolves committed 17 fouls, the Cavs shot just nine free throws. An abnormal stat this season, is the TWolves bench getting outscored, 25-37. Both teams turned it over around 20 times, the TWolves were able to capitalize on those TO's quite a bit more and finished with 32 points off those 20 turnovers.
Minnesota has the next four days off as they won't be back in action until Wednesday vs. the Denver Nuggets at the Target Center. We'll have a full gameday preview of that one early next week, until then thanks for reading HOWL and GO WOLVES!
Cody D. Anderson
A Wolves fan bringing you Gameday Recaps all season long!