Big numbers give Wolves a big victory over Cavs

  • Article by: JERRY ZGODA , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 8, 2012 - 9:42 AM

He found his shot, got to the line and dominated his inside matchup.

Timberwolves two-time All-Star Kevin Love seemingly accomplished so much during Friday's 91-73 victory over Cleveland at Target Center.

He helped hold rival rebounding fiend Anderson Varejao to a mere 14 of them.

"I mean, that's two under his season average," he said, exaggerating the facts ever so slightly.

He finally made his free throws.

"Well, most of them," he said after shooting twice as many as the opposition did all night.

And if he allowed himself just a bit of optimism late Friday, one might say he'd almost come around to feeling like his old self.

While the Wolves continue to wait for Ricky Rubio's return from March knee surgery, Love's 36-point, 13-rebound performance just might be the comeback for which he and his team have been waiting.

Maybe ...

"It's one game," he said afterward. "Hopefully, it's not fool's gold."

His 36 points surpassed by a bucket his season scoring high set the night he made his sudden, surprise season debut against Denver more than two weeks ago.

And two nights after he lamented how his healing broken hand inhibits his shooting touch, Love made shots than he missed for the first time in nine games back this season.

He made 10 of 19 shots and got to the free-throw line 18 times, making 14. The Wolves shot 35 free throws to the Cavs' nine.

"It's a step in the right direction," he said. "I've been putting in work, but it's just one game. I don't want to put too much pressure on myself. It might take me 15 or 20 games to get me back to where I want to be."

His eighth double-double in his ninth game back helped the Wolves persevere on a night when both teams combined for 39 turnovers while each played without its young, blossoming starting point guard.

When the two teams meet again for the final time this season in February, Rubio and Kyrie Irving both will be well along in their recovery from injury, and that rematch in Cleveland just might rack up the style points that Friday's game so badly lacked.

"It was a win we really needed," Wolves coach Rick Adelman said after his team reached .500 with a 9-9 record. "We gutted it out."

The Wolves led 12-2 and 27-18, then allowed Cleveland to tie the score late in the first half before they put the visitors away.

Love himself got to the free-throw line twice as many as times as the entire Cavaliers team, a statistical oddity that left Cleveland coach Byron Scott carefully groping for just the right words.

"I am trying to figure out a way to say this without getting fined," he said. "It was that bad. It really was."

The Wolves welcomed starting small forward Andrei Kirilenko back Friday after four games away because of back spasms, and he delivered eight points, seven rebounds and six assists in 31 minutes, looking like he had never been away.

His return to good health meant that second-year forward Derrick Williams once again didn't get off the bench. It also meant that the Wolves had back the defensive specialist who helped them hold the Cavaliers to 34.5-percent shooting.

Both that and the point total were season lows by a Wolves opponent.

"He's just so active. He does so many energy plays for us," Adelman said. "We have to have that energy."

  • WOLVES 91, CLEVELAND 73

    Up next: 7 p.m. Wednesday vs. Denver Target Center • TV: FSN (830-AM)

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Houston 1 FINAL
Miami 1
Philadelphia 1 FINAL
Minnesota 7
St. Louis 3 FINAL
Detroit 4
Baltimore - WP: T. Wilson 10 FINAL
NY Yankees - LP: S. Baker 2
Boston 9 FINAL
Tampa Bay 6
Toronto 3 FINAL
Pittsburgh 8
Atlanta 5 FINAL
Toronto 3
Washington 2 FINAL
NY Mets 10
Chicago Cubs 5 FINAL
Cincinnati 9
San Diego 3 FINAL
Texas 2
San Francisco 9 FINAL
Seattle 8
Colorado 4 FINAL
Chicago Cubs 18
Cleveland 3 FINAL
Milwaukee 2
Oakland 10 FINAL
Chicago WSox 4
Los Angeles 5 FINAL
LA Angels 4
Kansas City 10 FINAL
Arizona 5
Atlanta 100 FINAL
Charlotte 115
New York 80 FINAL
Chicago 111
Golden State 108 FINAL
Milwaukee 95
Oklahoma City 89 FINAL
Utah 94
Denver 114 FINAL
Portland 120
Nashville 4 FINAL
Washington 3
Arizona 2 FINAL
Pittsburgh 3
San Jose 3 FINAL(SO)
Philadelphia 2
Anaheim 3 FINAL
NY Islanders 2
NY Rangers 2 FINAL
Boston 4
Tampa Bay 0 FINAL
Detroit 4
New Jersey 1 FINAL
Carolina 3
Florida 2 FINAL(OT)
Montreal 3
Ottawa 3 FINAL(OT)
Toronto 4
Los Angeles 1 FINAL
Minnesota 4
Columbus 4 FINAL
St. Louis 2
Buffalo 3 FINAL
Colorado 5
Dallas 4 FINAL(OT)
Vancouver 3
Arizona 78 FINAL
Wisconsin 85
Canisius 73 FINAL
NJIT 78
Notre Dame 66 FINAL
Kentucky 68
San Jose 1 FINAL
New England 2
Orlando City 2 FINAL
Montreal 2
Los Angeles 0 FINAL
D.C. 1
Sporting Kansas City 1 FINAL
New York City 0
Red Bull New York 2 FINAL
Columbus 1
Portland 1 FINAL
Vancouver FC 2
Colorado 0 FINAL
Houston 0
Seattle 0 FINAL
FC Dallas 0
Texas 54 FINAL
(1) Connecticut 105
Dayton 82 FINAL
(8) Louisville 66
(16) Duke 55 FINAL
(4) Maryland 65
Gonzaga 69 FINAL
(6) Tennessee 73
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