By Nadvia Davis
The Cleveland Cavaliers would need way more than a big block from LeBron James over Timberwolves Tyus Jones to even come close to winning Monday night’s (Jan. 8) game at the Target Center.
After a 12-game home losing streak against the Cavs, the Minnesota Timberwolves bounced back and got a big win, 127-99 over Cleveland. With a sold-out crowd of 18,578 fans, the Timberwolves put on a show from start to finish. Wolves Andrew Wiggins finishing with 25 points alongside Jimmy Butler who contributed 21 points and Karl Anthony Towns who dropped 19.
Right from the tipoff, the Timberwolves set the tone with excellent ball movement, steals and tight defense on the Cavaliers. Wiggins knocked down the Timberwolves first three-point basket early in the first quarter. The Timberwolves were spot on hitting quick baskets that gave them a sixteen-point lead and caused the Cavaliers to take a timeout with 4:39 minutes left to play in the first quarter. The Timberwolves finished the first quarter ahead 32-18.
Wolves Guard Jamal Crawford dished a sweet assist to Gorgui Dieng to knock down a smooth three-point basket at the start of the second quarter. Crawford continued the three-point trend hitting a three-point basket and giving the Timberwolves a 21-point lead. With each made Timberwolves basket, the Cavaliers struggled to both contest shots and find a scoring groove of their own. The Timberwolves managed to hold James to 10 points in the game. The crowd got real “lit” when Butler hit a buzzer beating three-point basket to close out the first half. The Timberwolves lead 69-42 going into halftime.
The Wolves maintained their lead and picked up right where they left off at the start of the third quarter. Taj Gibson went to work in the paint gathering several rebounds and quick put backs to stretch the lead early in the third. With a little more than six minutes left to play in the quarter, frustrated Cavaliers guard Isaiah Thomas close-lined Wiggins to the jaw and was promptly ejected from the game. The Timberwolves closed out the third quarter with well-executed defense that forced the Cavaliers to turn the ball over 14 times throughout the game. The Wolves … shocking almost everyone … went into the fourth quarter with a whopping 35-point lead, 102 – 67.
The Cavaliers made an attempt to close the gap in the fourth with guard Kyle Korver’s hot three-point shots, but it wasn’t enough. The Timberwolves continued to rock the Cavaliers as they penetrated the lane and found the open teammates.
But in the end the Timberwolves proved why they are one of the feared teams in the Western Conference, as they finished off the defending Eastern Conference champs. And it should be noted that Jones extracted a little revenge on James streaking past him for a fast-break dunk that James had no chance to block.