The Cleveland Cavaliers (16-36) were not able to get any stops defensively in the fourth quarter and lost to the Minnesota Timberwolves (19-30), 100-92.
Tonight’s matchup against the T’Wolves was considered a must-win for Cavs. It was a must-win because the Cavs are a team that isn’t really playing for much this season, expect pride. The Cavs have played surprisingly well against teams who are among the league’s best, but the Cavs have struggled against teams who are considered bottom dwellers. If they want an identity, they have to win games like this; games they are VERY capable of winning.
The Cavs entered the fourth quarter down seven and Byron Scott sent out five bench players to begin the quarter, like he has the past few games. The bunch consisted of Marreese Speights, Wayne Ellington, Shaun Livingston, C.J. Miles and Luke Walton. Like this bunch has been known for, they fought hard and brought the Cavs back.
But their effort defensively is what lost them the game, for the hundredth time this season it feels like.
The Cavs allowed the T’Wolves to shoot 52 percent tonight – most notably going 8-of-14 from three-point range.
Luke Ridnour scored 21 points on 9-of-14 shooting. It was Ridnour’s fourth quarter 3-pointer that stuck a knife in the Cavs and sent them packing. His backcourt partner Ricky Rubio produced a double-double consisting of 13 points and 10 assists.
Kyrie Irving had a solid performance, scoring 20 points and dishing out 7 assists. He also was limping at the end of the first half after hitting a 3-point jumper. He appeared to roll his ankle on Alexey Shved’s foot. Irving was evaluated at halftime and he appeared fine, playing the rest of the second half. Unfortunately, Irving was unable to come up with any fourth quarter heroics.
Dion Waiters scored 12 points on 6-of-6 shooting in 21 minutes. Waiters made some dumb mistakes early and had some ugly turnovers, which is why he found himself on the bench for most of the game.
This loss is concerning for the Cavs because it was a game they should have won. Minnesota was without Kevin Love, who continues to nurse his broken hand, Brandon Roy and Andre Kirilenko. But being short-handed didn’t stop the T’Wolves from playing hard — and that showed on the court tonight.
The team looked liked they were getting on a roll heading into the All-Star break, but this loss will set them back a bit.
Cleveland has one more game before the All-Star break on Wednesday against the leaders of the Western Conference — the San Antonio Spurs. The game is at Quicken Loans Arena and tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.