The Minnesota Timberwolves were riding a 4-game losing streak as well as an 8-game road losing streak.
Despite playing without Kevin Love & Andrei Kirilenko and having J.J. Barea limited with a foot sprain, Luke Ridnour dumped in 21 points and led the Wolves to a 100-92 win. This is the fifth time Ridnour has scored 20+ points in a game, however it's also the first time this season that the Wolves have won when Luke scores 20+.
It was a back-and-forth game throughout, but the Wolves made plays down the stretch and were simply the better team. Minnesota got off to a hot start thanks to some solid offensive play from 4 of 5 of their starters. Ridnour & Gelabale both scored 6, while Rubio & Pekovic both added 5. The TWolves scored 25 points in that first quarter thanks in large part to some hot shooting from downtown. The Wolves went a perfect 4-of-4 from deep. The Cavs ended the first quarter with the lead and that was thanks to their fast break offense. Cleveland had 13 of their total 19 fast break points in that first quarter and also dominated the paint by an 18-6 advantage.
Shved got hot in the second quarter and led the team with 10 of his 12 total points. The Wolves shot 8-for-18 from the field, 1-for-4 from deep and a perfect 7-for-7 from the line in the second quarter. They were able to make adjustments and not allow the Cavs to run the break. They did continue to force the Wolves in turning the ball over with another 5 TO's in the quarter.
Minnesota had their ups and downs in the third quarter, but were able to put together a couple good scoring runs. Derrick Williams got hot in the quarter with 10 of his 12 points and Pek added 6. Kyrie Irving (8), Alonzo Gee (7) and Dion Waiter (4) scored all 19 of the Cavs' third quarter points. The Wolves made a point of locking down the paint after allowing Tristan Thompson to score 10pts in the first quarter. It's also clear that the Cavaliers clearly miss Anderson Varejo. Tyler Zeller has been 'all right' this season, but Varejo was on an All-Star-esqe season before his season-ending knee surgery AND the blood clot in his leg. The Wolves went 2-of-3 from deep and out-rebounded the Cavs 10-7.
Luke Ridnour was the hero of the day as he closed out the Cavaliers, scoring 13 of his 21 points in the final quarter to boost the Wolves to a MUCH needed win. For most games this season, the backcourt of Ricky Rubio and Luke Ridnour has been seen as a major disadvantage--especially offensively. However, tonight Luke held the much bigger and physical rookie guard Dion Waiter to just 12 points as well as 6 turnovers. The Cavs simply didn't have an answer for Luke offensively and he hit a number of mid-range and three-point jumpers as well as some floaters to boot.
Ridnour finished with 21pts, 4reb, 3ast, 1stl, shot 9-of-14 from the field, 1-of-2 from deep and 2-for-2 from the line in 37 minutes. Nikola Pekovic struggled a bit hitting shots at just 6-for-14 on the night, but he did finish with 16pts, 10reb, 2ast and 2stls in a game-high 40 minutes. Ricky Rubio had another solid all-around game with 13pts, 3reb, 10ast & 5stls, he also shot 5-of-9 from the field, but Irving still gave him some trouble as Ricky was forced into 7 turnovers and committed 5 fouls--causing him to sit during a key stretch midway through the fourth.
The Cavs were led by their all-star, Kyrie Irving finished with 20pts, 4reb, 7ast, 1stl and shot 9-for-20 from the field in 36 minutes. Tristan Thompson started the game HOT, but quickly cooled off, he contributed 16pts, 9reb, 1ast, 4stls and 2blks. Alonzo Gee had a decent all-around game with 11pts, 4reb, 2ast & 2stls, however he struggled hitting his three-point shots (just 1-for-5) and went 0-for-2 at the line.
The Timberwolves turned the ball over 22 times for 34 Cavaliers points and that could've easily been the key for a Cavs win, however the Wolves helped themselves by shooting 52% from the field, 57.1% from deep and 82.4% from the line. Another big key in the victory was slowing down Cleveland's running game. The Cavs had 13 fast break points after one quarter, but the Wolves allowed them just 6 more through the last three.
MISC. PLAYER STATS: Mickael Gelabale set a new season/career-high with his 3 made threes, he also tied season-highs in threes attempted (3), defensive rebounds (4) and assists (2). Ricky Rubio tied two of his season-highs with 1 three made and 5 steals. Luke Ridnour tied a season-high, tonight was his fourth game of the season with 9 made field goals. Nikola Pekovic also tied a season-high, tonight was his fifth game of the season with 2 steals.
MISC. TEAM STATS: The Wolves shot a season-best 57.1% from deep, while also committing the second-most turnovers of the season at 22. The Cavaliers were called for the second-fewest foul total, for a Wolves opponent this season (15).
The Wolves are now 19-30 on the season and they'll head back to the Target Center to face the Utah Jazz on Wednesday. That will be the Wolves' last game before the all-star break and they won't play again for a full week (returning to action the following Wednesday). That's all for now, thanks for reading HOWL and GO WOLVES!
Cody D. Anderson
A Wolves fan bringing you Gameday Recaps all season long!