The Cleveland Cavaliers improved to 4-3 last night with an impressive road win over the young and improving Minnesota Timberwolves. Byron Scott’s club methodically ground down the Wolves over the first three plus quarters, building an 18 point lead in the fourth and cruising comfortably to their second road win of the season. The Cavaliers took the lead in the final minute of the first quarter and, aside from the few short runs by the Wolves, never really looked back.
Much of the hype coming into the game focused on the rookie point guard matchup between Kyrie Irving and Ricky Rubio. Irving, along with veteran Ramon Sessions, got the better of the Minny backcourt all evening. Irving finished with 14 points, five rebounds, and five assists from the starting point guard spot. The rookie had a season-high turnover night, however, giving it away seven times. Those kinds of turnover margins are expected from a rookie point guard, and certainly part of the process as Wizards fans are finding out in much more frustrating circumstances with John Wall. Number two pick Derrick Williams finished with 12 points for the Wolves.
The vet Sessions was there to pick up Irving when things got too sloppy last night. While he didn’t have his best shooting night, he had a solid all-around floor game contributing 11 points, seven rebounds, and seven assists. And it was Sessions, not the dynamic dime dishing rookie Rubio, who had the highlight assist of the night. On a 2-on-1 breakaway, Alonzo Gee hit Sessions filling the left lane. Sessions caught the pass, took no dribbles and immediately jumped to put it off the glass for a trailing Gee who slammed it home. The highlight came in the middle of the Cavs fourth quarter run as they built their largest lead, and likely got Cavaliers’ fans off their couches on Friday night as it seemed to ice an imminent win.
Darko Milicic had a huge first quarter for the Wolves, beating up the Cavs on the interior for 11 points in the first 12 minutes. But Anderson Varejao ended it there, as Milicic came back down to earth and didn’t score again. Andy, meanwhile, had his third double-double of the season – grabbing 12 boards and scoring 13 points on just eight shots. It was a solid bounce back performance after a quiet night in Toronto.
In the end, it was the mad chucker Antawn Jamison who led all Cavalier scorers. Jamison had his second highest point total of the season, finishing with 22 points. It took 22 shots, and he’s still firing with great frequency and little success from behind the arc, but there’s no need to dwell on that after a nice road win.
An improved defensive effort and hot shooting from outside were enough to really keep the lead comfortable. That will need to happen every now and again if the Cavs are to have any success in the road-heavy first month of the season. The Minny win launches them westward, where they will play the first of five road games against Portland on Sunday night.
Brendan is a weekend editor at WaitingForNextYear. He has been writing for the site since March of 2009. He went to college in Boston during a run of insufferable Beantown championships that only served to reinforce his Cleveland allegiance and fandom which he transcribes to you here at WFNY.