Timberwolves outlast Cavaliers to snap 8-game road losing streak
CLEVELAND — Luke Ridnour scored 21 points, Ricky Rubio added 13 and 10 assists and the Minnesota Timberwolves snapped an eight-game road losing streak, beating the Cleveland Cavaliers 100-92 on Monday night.
Ridnour dropped a critical 3-pointer with 1:43 left for the banged-up Timberwolves, who hadn’t won on the road since Jan. 3 — star center Kevin Love’s last game before he was lost indefinitely with a broken hand.
Nikola Pekovic added 16 points and 10 rebounds as Minnesota ended a four-game losing streak and improved to just 4-16 since losing Love.
Kyrie Irving scored 20 points and Tristan Thompson had 16 for the Cavs, who were within 82-81 in the fourth before Ridnour sparked a 10-2 run by the Timberwolves. Ridnour had 13 points in the final 12 minutes.
Before the game, Minnesota coach Rick Adelman said all the losing and mounting injuries had been taking a toll on his players.
“When you go through the things we’ve had to go through the last two or three weeks, it wears on you mentally,” said Adelman, who recently took an extended absence to be with his wife, Mary Kay, as she recovers from seizures. “They’re human. You get out there and bust your tails and lose a close game in the last minute it starts to wear on you big time.”
At one point in the second half, a frustrated Rubio slapped the padded basket support after picking up a foul on a charge.
But after Wayne Ellington’s 3-pointer pulled the Cavs within one, Ridnour took over, scoring eight points on a 10-2 tear that put the Timberwolves in control.
Irving, whose late-game heroics have led Cleveland to some recent wins, tried to rally the Cavs but couldn’t. He had two bad missed in a turnover in a three-minute stretch.
Still, the Cavs were within striking distance when Thompson made two free throws to pulled Cleveland within 92-89 with 1:56 remaining. But Ridnour, who always seems to play well against Cleveland, buried his key 3-pointer from the right side and hit another short jumper with 9 seconds left to cap just Minnesota’s second win in 12 games.
Derrick Williams had 13 points and Mickael Gelabale and Alexey Shved added 11 apiece for the Timberwolves.
Down by eight, Minnesota went on a 14-0 run late in the second quarter to take a 47-41 lead. Shved hit a 3-pointer and scored seven points in the spurt.
Irving stopped the Timberwolves’ spree with a 3-pointer, but he rolled his left ankle when came down and landed on Shved’s foot. Irving hopped around in obvious pain but stayed in the game for a few more seconds. He was then replaced and limped to the locker room for treatment.
Irving came out after halftime and tested the ankle during warmups. He appeared to be OK, and dropped a short left-hander to open the third quarter.
An injury could have put a major crimp into his All-Star plans.
Selected as an Eastern Conference reserve, Irving also plans to compete in the 3-point shooting contest this weekend in Houston. To get him ready for the event, Cavs coach Byron Scott has challenged Irving to a shooting competition at practice on Tuesday. The 51-year-old Scott twice participated in the 3-point contest as a player, finishing third in 1988.
“I’m looking forward to it,” Irving cracked of his matchup with Scott. “I’m getting up early and doing my pushups.”
NOTES: Irving said he hasn’t given much thought to he and LeBron James some day playing together. James can opt out of his contract after the 2014 season and there has been speculation he might return to Cleveland. “The potential is endless if it ever did happen,” Irving said. “Obviously, I would be 22 and still a young guy.” Irving said he and James “talk often.” ... Wolves G J.J. Barea played 15 minutes after missing Sunday’s game with a sprained left foot. Minnesota was also without Andrei Kirilenko (strained quad), F Chase Budinger (knee surgery), G Brandon Roy (knee) and G Malcolm Lee (knee, hip surgery).
Story by AP Sports Writer Tom Withers