Shorthanded Wolves revert to old ways in loss to Cleveland

KAT, Wiggins both miss game

AP
December 29, 2019 - 7:51 am
Kelan Martin of the Wolves is upset

USA Today Sports

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Rookie Darius Garland and second-year backcourt partner Collin Sexton each scored 18 points, and the Cavaliers overcame an NBA season tying-high 29 turnovers to hold off the Minnesota Timberwolves 94-88 on Saturday.

The Wolves lost for the 12th time in 13 games and were playing without Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins.

Towns is still nuring a knee injury while an illness kept Wiggins from suiting up.

“Tonight, we stayed in the game, but once again it wasn’t pretty,” Wolves coach Ryan Saunders said. “It’s not one of those things where those two guys are out so we completely scrap a system.”

Garland scored seven points in the fourth quarter, including five in the game-deciding run. The Wolves had finally brought their home crowd to life with a 9-0 run that allowed them to go up 78-77 with 6:44 left, their first lead since 2-0.

But Larry Nance Jr. regained Cleveland’s lead on a follow shot and Tristan Thompson hit a pair of free throws to start a 10-2 run. Garland had a 3-pointer and a jumper during the run. Kelan Martin’s 3-pointer with 16.5 seconds left pulled Minnesota to 90-87, but Sexton hit two foul shots with 14 seconds remaining to put it away.

It was an ugly game missing top scorers from both teams. Cleveland led for most the night before needing its quick rally.

A night after scoring 30 in Boston, Cavs veteran forward Kevin Love sat in street clothes while nursing a right hip contusion. Cleveland all but tried to give the game away with a rash of poor ballhandling and passes — the 29 turnovers tied Sacramento’s mark, set Dec. 15 at Golden State.

The Cavs also took advantage of Towns’ absence on the boards, grabbing a season-high 61 rebounds.

Jeff Teague scored 18 points and fellow reserve Martin had 17 for Minnesota. Robert Covington added 14.

“A win is a win, but but this got a little bit ugly and we got to fix some things,” Nance said.

BLOWN CHANCES

The Wolves, who were coming off their first win in 12 games after a double-overtime victory in Sacramento on Thursday, lost their ninth straight home game. They had a season-high 17 steals and scored 27 points off Cleveland’s turnovers, but were done in by a horrendous night on the perimeter and the boards.

The Cavaliers outrebounded Minnesota 61-39, and the Wolves — one of the NBA’s worst 3-point shooting teams — hit only 8 of 37 from behind the arc.

“We didn’t knock down a lot of shots. We left a lot of points on the board, finishing at the rim and stuff. The game was there for us to take, but like I said we just didn’t execute,” Covington said.

TIP-INS

Timberwolves: Saunders said Towns, who missed his sixth game, has been “progressing” but didn’t provide a timetable for his return. “I know it’s not the answer everybody probably wants to hear, but that’s what I have, is that he’s progressing,” Saunders said. ... F Gorgui Dieng was held to five points on 2-of-8 shooting after averaging 15.6 the previous five games.

UP NEXT

The Timberwolves host Brooklyn on Monday.

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