CLEVELAND, Ohio – What a difference 24 hours makes.
The Cleveland Cavaliers avenged a lousy show the night before in Minnesota, ending their two-game defeat with a 100-98 win over the Timberwolves at the bustling Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. The Cavs are now 7-4 at home where they allow around 2,000 fans.
Leaving Minneapolis late Sunday night, the Cavs believed they had beaten themselves and knew what it took to get a bounce-back win. They were confident and didn’t want to hold onto the negatives. On Monday evening, they put words into action.
Transitional Defense. Shot selection. Sales. These were some of the priorities after the inexplicable defeat of 109: 104 against the second worst team in the league on Sunday.
Darius Garland, sophomore point guard, said so repeatedly in his post-game remarks, blaming himself for sloppiness at critical moments. Garland helped steer the turnaround.
“Darius gave me comments after last night’s game about what he thought of our performance,” said Cavs head coach JB Bickerstaff after the win. “And if you have a young man who can make these comments and understand the moment, but then come out the next evening and do something about it, that says a lot about Darius. He was determined to make sure we win that game tonight. And no matter in which way. Whether it was a shot, whether it was a pass, the ball was in his hand to end the game, he would do the game tonight. “
Andre Drummond did not get dressed because of back pain. That clogged the paint and gave Garland the freedom he hasn’t always had this season. The youngster set the tone in the first quarter with seven points and six assists, carving the wolves with a deadly – and modern – pick and roll game. Garland finished the tournament with 17 points, six of them in the fourth quarter, with 11 assists against two turnovers.
“I was a little more aggressive,” said Garland. “I just wanted the ball in my hands so I could play for everyone else and try to get the right readings.”
Center Jarrett Allen made his first start since joining the Cavs in January with the Brooklyn Nets and has been present on both ends. Allen, an elite pick-and-roll partner with Garland on the offensive and the defensive linchpin, achieved a season high of 23 points with 18 rebounds and five blocks.
“I adapt well. I don’t think again, ”said Allen. “I’m starting to know the sets, the games, the defense. I’m starting to loosen up and play my game now. “
While Allen was patrolling the center, Minnesota only shot 39.2% of the field, including 27 out of 57 in color.
Collin Sexton, the other key piece of Cleveland’s growing young core, scored 26 points, three rebounds and three assists.
The Cavs led much of the game, which included four changes in leadership and two draws, and when Minnesota came back to the top at the start of the fourth quarter and started that stretch with a 9-1 run, the Cavs failed to crack or lose confidence – one common occurrence during this last slide. They refocused, called for the starters, and eventually thwarted the wave of wolves.
Minnesota cut Cleveland’s lead to two points, to 6.1 seconds. But Taurean Prince, who was replacing Larry Nance Jr. at the power forward, calmly dropped a couple of clutch free throws to seal the win. Prince shook off a chilly night of shooting, went 2-of-10 off the field and 1-of-7 from beyond the arc, ending with eight points, nine rebounds, four assists and two blocks.
This time the Cavs didn’t fight, although it got tense late.
The Cavs gave up zero fastbreak points and forced the Wolves to go 0 of 6 on those attempts. One night after throwing the ball 19 times in what Cav’s head coach JB Bickerstaff called “unacceptable”, the Cavs reduced that number and ended the game at 15.
JaVale McGee was pushed back into the rotation because Drummond, Nance and Kevin Love were held up. Nance continued the second game of a back to back with persistent pain in his sprained right wrist. Love stays apart with a calf strain.
McGee failed to score but accumulated five rebounds and hit three shots in 13 minutes.
The Cavs will continue their homestand against the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday night. Tipoff is set to 8 p.m.
New Cavs Face Masks For Sale: Here, you can purchase Cleveland Cavaliers-themed face covers for coronavirus protection, including a single mask ($ 14.99) and a 3-pack ($ 24.99). All NBA proceeds were donated to charity.
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