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Wolves fall to Cavaliers

CLEVELAND -- In their first meeting since headlining one of the NBA's most talked-about offseason trades, Andrew Wiggins outshined Kevin Love on Tuesday, scoring 27 points, dunking on Love, swatting Tristan Thompson and drawing a foul as he tried...

Andrew Wiggins
Cleveland forward LeBron James, right, runs to the corner to cover Minnesota forward Andrew Wiggins during the second quarter Tuesday at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. USA TODAY Sports

CLEVELAND - In their first meeting since headlining one of the NBA’s most talked-about offseason trades, Andrew Wiggins outshined Kevin Love on Tuesday, scoring 27 points, dunking on Love, swatting Tristan Thompson and drawing a foul as he tried to go through LeBron James in transition.
But, as has been true too often during the Minnesota Timberwolves’ injury-plagued season, the rookie forward was seriously outmanned.
Cleveland pulled away late in the third quarter to win 125-104, the fourth victory on a five-game homestand for the Cavaliers before their Christmas showdown in Miami.
Guard Kyrie Irving scored 17 of his 29 points in the second half for Cleveland, and James had 24 points, four rebounds and three assists.
Cleveland suffered a couple of serious scares in the third quarter.
First, Love injured his right thumb as he banged it against former teammate Gorgui Dieng under the basket. The power forward eventually returned, finishing with 20 points and 10 rebounds.
But, by the time Love was back, center Anderson Varejao was in the locker room, having been carried off by teammates James Jones and Brendan Haywood after injuring his right ankle.
The Cavaliers reported that Varejao, who has missed 166 games over the previous four seasons, will be evaluated Wednesday. He has started all but one game this season.
They had more than enough without him Tuesday.
The game could be summarized by a review of the Cavaliers’ recent draft history.
Irving, the No. 1 overall pick by Cleveland in 2011, made 12 of 19 shots from the field. James, the No. 1 overall pick in 2003, made half of his 16 shots, playing patiently for most of the contest.
While Wiggins, the No. 1 overall pick in 2014, converted 9 of 16 tries, forward Anthony Bennett - taken first overall by Cleveland in 2013 and later included in the Love deal - missed all four of his, in just 12 minutes.
Dieng, a center, had 20 points and 11 rebounds, and forward Shabazz Muhammad had 18 points and six rebounds for Minnesota, which has lost six straight.
NOTES: David Blatt, who has more than 30 years of international experience, including a stint as coach of the Russian national team, spoke highly of Canada’s prospects in future years if Cavaliers C/F Tristan Thompson and Timberwolves F Anthony Bennett and F Andrew Wiggins (each of whom he coached in Cavaliers summer league) can all play together. “They have a chance to be a top, top rate international team,” Blatt said. ... Minnesota coach Flip Saunders, who said this week that F Kevin Love could get a frosty reception when the Cavaliers visit on Minnesota, had a friendly conversation with Love between the teams’ shootarounds Tuesday, but declined to comment on him during the pre-game media session. ... Without Corey Brewer (traded), Ricky Rubio (ankle injury), Nikola Pekovic (ankle injury) and Kevin Martin (wrist injury), Tuesday’s active Minnesota players started just 28 games in Love’s last season with the team. ... Cleveland F LeBron James’ oldest son, fourth-grader LeBron Jr., has become a hoops sensation, after a highlight video circulated on the Internet. “As far as what he’s doing (on the court), I don’t want to get involved in that stuff right now,” James said. “He’s too young.”

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