Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 12/7/12
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Just two nights earlier, after another difficult shooting night, Kevin Love sat in front of his locker and talked about his tired legs and still-recovering shooting hand. His shot didn't feel right and the energy just wasn't there. Both returned Friday. In the Timberwolves' 91-83 victory over floundering Cleveland at Target Center, Love was the one man on the court who could be counted on, start to finish, to make shots. On a night when both teams were struggling mightily on offense, Love was a shining exception. He scored a season-high 36 points on 10-for-19 shooting. It was the most points since he had 40 in Charlotte on March 28, and it was the first time this season he made more than half of his shots. He got to the line 18 times, making 14. Nine games into his return from breaking two bones in his right hand, Love looked both sharp and energetic. But: "It's one game," he cautioned afterward. "I made some shots. I made my free throws -- most of 'em. So, hopefully, it's not fool's gold. Hopefully it's a step in the right direction. I've been putting in the work. But it's just one game." It was needed on a night when the Wolves (9-9), who never trailed, never seemed to be completely in control until the fourth quarter. This despite holding Cleveland (4-16) to 73 points on 34.5 percent shooting. Both were season lows for Wolves opponents. "It was a combination," Cavs coach Byron Scott said. "We didn't shoot it real well and they played good defense. We are not playing with a lot of confidence right now." Love, finally, is. He had 15 points in the first quarter, 20 by halftime, and 30 entering the fourth quarter. He kept the gritty Wolves in the game until the team caught up to him late. Cleveland? Love and Company held Cavs center Anderson Varejao to four points and 14 rebounds, breaking his double-double streak at 10. Alonzo Gee scored 16 points, but he was the only Cavs player in double figures. C.J. Miles had 13 and Donald Sloan 10 off the bench. The Cavs continue to struggle without the injured backcourt of Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters, losing their fourth straight. Wolves forward Andrei Kirilenko returned after missing four games with back spasms and had eight points, three blocks, four steals and six assists. Guard Luke Ridnour had 12 points, J.J. Barea 10 points, six in the final quarter. And the Wolves needed them. Up by as many as 13, the Wolves led by just six after Sloan's 11-foot runner made it 69-63 with 9:55 left. It was then, with Love resting on the bench, that the Wolves found a rhythm going on a 16-4 run that began with Barea's three-pointer. After Miles scored Alexey Shved hit a jumper, Dante Cunningham got a slam. With Love back in the game, Barea hit another 3-pointer. By the time Ridnour scored with 3:44 left, the Wolves were up by 18 and the game was all but over. The win proved two things. First, the Wolves can win when things aren't going well on offense. And second, Love is on the mend. "We were messing with him afterward, saying he was back," Barea said. "He looked great." But Love was more cautious. It might take him 20 games to get all the way back, he said. "I don't want to put too much pressure on myself," he said. "But hopefully it will be sooner rather than later." NOTES: Wolves president of basketball operations, David Kahn, made a point of meeting with Twin Cities media Friday after the morning shootaround to dispute an ESPN report that the team had talked with the Los Angeles Lakers about acquiring Pau Gasol in a trade. Kahn said he hasn't talked with the Lakers since June. The ESPN report, citing sources, said the Lakers had turned down offers from both Minnesota and Toronto. "What bothers me is it has an impact on a team and its players and its family members and it's not appropriate for that reason -- if it's not real." ... Guard Ricky Rubio's return from knee surgery could come as early as Wednesday against Denver. ... The team has a four-day break after Friday's game, and should get in at least two hard practices during that time. ... Guard Brandon Roy, recovering from right knee surgery, will return to the Wolves Sunday after spending two weeks at home. But he will not be ready to return to practice. ... The Cavaliers left both guard Kyrie Irving (finger) and rookie guard Dion Waiters (left ankle) at home. Both will likely miss Saturday's game against Detroit.
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