High-flying Wolves crush Cavaliers
MINNEAPOLIS -- Playing without ill guard Kevin Martin, the Minnesota Timberwolves saw their offense hum right along Wednesday in a 124-95 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers at Target Center.
Missing the league's fifth-leading scorer, a player who scored 30 or more points in two of his last three games, the Wolves simply plugged rookie Robbie Hummel into the starting lineup and set season highs for points in a game and in a half by scoring 70 of their 124 before halftime.
"I guess he's been the one holding us back," Wolves coach Rick Adelman said with a smirk, referring to Martin.
The Wolves (6-3) produced yet another big first quarter, 38 points, and they matched that total in the third quarter. Minnesota led by 16 points in the first quarter, by 26 before halftime and by as many as 39 in the second half. Both teams sat their starters for the entire fourth quarter.
Adelman inserted Hummel, a former second-round pick out of Purdue, into the starting small forward role and moved Brewer over into Martin's starting shooting guard spot so Brewer could defend the Cavs' Dion Waiters.
All Brewer did was score his team's first nine points on his way to a 27-point night, including 5-for-5 on 3-pointers. He finished two points shy of his career high.
Wolves point guard Ricky Rubio said afterward that he double-checked to be sure Martin wasn't playing anyway after watching Brewer's scoring binge.
"Corey was wearing his jersey or something," Rubio said, referring to Martin. "He was making shots."
Rubio, meanwhile, followed Sunday's triple-double against the Lakers in Los Angeles by reaching a career high with 16 assists. He also scored 16 points. Rubio's previous assist best was 14, reached most recently Sunday.
Wolves two-time All Star Kevin Love delivered a 33-point, eight-rebound, six-assist night that very likely would have approach a triple-double had Adelman not removed Love and Rubio from the game late in the third quarter for the night to a standing ovation.
It was Love's fourth 30-plus-point game in the season's first nine games. He is averaging 27.1 points a game, second only to Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant's 30.2-point average.
"They beat us in transition, they beat us in the half-court," Cavaliers coach Mike Brown said. "They cut harder. They played harder. They were more physical."
The Wolves had 34 assists and only nine turnovers on a night when they pulled away with a 22-6 run that ended the first quarter and started the second. The surge coincided with Cavaliers star guard Kyrie Irving leaving to get his banged-up nose X-rayed.
Irving returned to the game early in the second quarter when the X-rays came back negative. By then, the Cavs trailed 42-24 and they never got any closer than 19 points after halftime. Irving led Cleveland with 20 points, and center Anderson Varajao added 13 points.
"It was one of these nights," Cleveland reserve guard Jarrett Jack said. "You normally have about two of these a year, where you just come out in a funk and you know you don't have it. You try to put it in the rearview mirror as quick as possible."
Through three quarters, the Wolves made nine of 15 three-point shots, an astounding 60 percent, before finishing 11-for-22.
"When we make shots, it's unbelievable," said Rubio, who has 40 assists in his past three games. "We moved the ball so well and we made shots, and that's fun. (Teammates are) making shots. They're helping me to look good. I'm just trying to run the team."
NOTES: Rookie G Robbie Hummel got his first career NBA start in place of G Kevin Martin (illness), and he scored 10 points in 28 minutes. ... Cavaliers C Andrew Bynum missed the first of at least two games this week because of a family matter that took him away from the team. Bynum made his first start of the season Monday against the Chicago Bulls and had 11 points and six rebounds in 21 minutes. "It's tough from the standpoint it's still all new for us and we don't have a great rhythm yet," Cleveland coach Mike Brown said. "We've just got to keep playing and search for that rhythm until he gets back. What he has going on is way more important than what we have going on tonight."... Timberwolves F Kevin Love entered Wednesday's game averaging 26.4 points, 15 rebounds and 5 assists in the first eight games. The only NBA players to average 25/15/5 for a full season: Wilt Chamberlain, Elgin Baylor and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.