Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 12/7/12
MINNEAPOLIS -- Both teams were without key players -- Minnesota without Ricky Rubio, Cleveland without their starting backcourt. Together, Friday at Target Center, the Timberwolves and Cavaliers spent most of their 48 minutes together struggling to find a rhythm on offense. In the end, the Wolves finally figured it out. Especially Kevin Love, who shot better than 50 percent for the first time this year (10-for-19) and scored a season-high 36 points with 13 rebounds in the Timberwolves 91-73 victory over the Cavaliers. Love was the shiny exception to some down-and-dirty basketball. Cleveland (shot just 34.5 percent. Take Love out of the equation and the rest of the Wolves (9-9) weren't a heck of a lot better. Love, playing in his ninth game since returning from two broken bones in his right hand, had 15 points in the first quarter, 20 by halftime and 30 entering the fourth quarter. He tipped in his own miss in the final moments of the game to reach 36 points, the most he has scored since getting 40 at Charlotte March 28, 2011. Cleveland (4-16) got 16 points from Alonzo Gee, 13 from C.J. Miles and 10 from Donald Sloan while losing its fourth in a row. Still, it was with Love resting on the bench in the fourth quarter that the Wolves finally started to take control of the game. Miles' slam dunk had pulled the Cavs within 72-65 after a Wolves turnover. The Wolves responded with a 13-2 run. Alexey Shved hit a jumper. Then J.J. Barea stole the ball and fed Josh Howard for a slam. After Miles scored – and with Love back in the game -- Barea took Love's pass and hit a three-pointer, then Dante Cunningham hit two free throws with 4 1/2 minutes left to give the Wolves an 85-67 lead. The Wolves cruised from there to the finish. Luke Ridnour had 12 points and five assists for the Wolves. Barea scored 10 off the bench. Forward Andrei Kirilenko had eight points, three blocks, four steals and six assists. Cleveland center Anderson Varejao had his 10-game double-double streak ended. He had 14 rebounds, but scored just four points. Gee was the only Cavs starter to score in double figures. 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." ... 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 in that time. ... Wolves G 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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