The Cavaliers were led by LeBron James who put up 25/8/14 to go along with a very Love-like 21/10 from Channing Frye who replaced Kevin Love in the starting unit. The defense was non-existent all night, but somehow found a way to lock down in the fourth to prevail by a final of 116-108 against the Timberwolves. Here are some thoughts from the game tonight.
- Things started off slow as the Cavaliers, like much of the league, simply had no answer at all for Karl-Anthony Towns. He made his first four attempts in the quarter, and looked every bit like the franchise big that he’s becoming.
- Finding themselves down early, a well placed timeout spurred a 12-2 run to bring things back to manageable before Minnesota closed a 30 point quarter with a two point lead.
- The high pick and roll continues to baffle Cavalier bigs defensively. Minnesota ran it effectively and frequently in the first as Rubio whipped passes into small windows and made life tough for Cavalier defenders as they had to scramble to maintain their defensive integrity.
- The Cavs ended the second quarter with a 69-61 lead, and it looked like they left some points on the table. The lead got out to nine at one point, but Minnesota closed strong, closing the gap.
- Watching the Cavs play small, run, and score a ton of points is really fun. Watching defensive battles is really boring. Somewhere in the middle, things need to come together. Scoring 64 is fine, but allowing a team battling for eighth in the muddy bottom of the West is decidedly not fine.
- Wiggins threw in 18 in the first half despite a mostly really solid defensive effort from Iman Shumpert. He finished with a game high 41 points on 16/29 from the field.
- The Lance Stephenson injury was weird. No contact, nobody near him, and didn’t appear to be anything other than a high ankle sprain despite the pain he was in. Odd scene.
- LeBron added two behind the back passes, a pass under the legs of a defender stationed 20 feet away, and two thunderous dunks to punctuate a quarter in which his frustration with officiating was palpable.
- Andrew Wiggins ended the third with a buzzer beater that tied the game at 93 and gave him 37 on the night. Simply, he was the best offensive player on the floor all night long, and there was nothing anyone in gold could do about it.
- Channing Frye was great tonight. He won’t start every game while Love is on the shelf, as Lue will likely play match ups. That said, he will get the bulk of the Love minutes as Lue tries to find out what’s going to work best.
- After allowing 93 points in the first three quarters, the Cavaliers defense locked down, allowing just five points in the first five minutes of the fourth, and 15 in the quarter as a whole.
- Former Wolves draft choice Derrick Williams made all the right plays, had great energy, and added in 15 points to go with six rebounds in the win. He looks like a great fit, and barring anything crazy, someone that will be in Cleveland at least through the end of this season.
The defense will need to keep that fourth quarter momentum alive and well against a solid Indiana team on Wednesday in Cleveland.