CLEVELAND - The Timberwolves won a road game Monday night for the first time in 39 days, or since All-Star forward Kevin Love played his last game in Denver and broke his hand for the second time this season.
Their 100-92 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers came just in time.
"We needed that bad," Wolves guard Luke Ridnour said. "It has been a long month for us."
And then some.
The Wolves won for just the third time in 18 games and now are 4-16 since Love was lost for 10 weeks or more.
They did so against a young Cavaliers team that now has won three games fewer than them. But until Monday, the two teams were headed in opposite directions.
The Cavs had won seven of their previous 10 games and have second-year guard Kyrie Irving aimed toward participating in all three days of this weekend's All-Star Game festivities in Houston, including the big game on Sunday.
The Wolves, meanwhile, have suffered through six weeks that should prove once and for all that they are not a better team without Love.
On Monday, all that has been so glum for so long was gone, for one night at least.
"I think it does wear on them," Wolves coach Rick Adelman said. "They're human. You get out there and you bust your tails and you lose a close game in the last minute, and it starts to wear on you big-time."
Cavaliers coach Byron Scott had to answer whether this was his team's worst loss in a 16-36 season filled with them while the Wolves celebrated a fourth quarter where they stood firm and did not let another one get away. "I don't know if it was the worst loss of the year," Scott said. "But it wasn't pretty."
From the Wolves' perspective, Ridnour wrapped this one in a big, beautiful bow with a fourth quarter in which he scored 13 of his game-high 21 points.
Earlier Monday, Adelman had chatted with Ridnour, discussing ways in which they could get him more open shots against defenses geared to stop his shooting and Nikola Pekovic's inside play.
"They go after them because they know those are the two guys who can make shots consistently," Adelman said on a night when his team played without starters Love and Andrei Kirilenko.
The Wolves did that all the way around on Monday. All five starters scored in double figures for only the fourth time this season. They shot 8-for-14 on three-pointers.
"Games are a lot easier when you can make shots," Adelman said. "I found that out. We made threes. We made shots. We got the ball to Pekovic. We had a nice balance to the game."
Ridnour delivered with a 9-for-14 night that included one very clutch three-pointer in the game's final two minutes. The shot repelled the Cavaliers after they had turned a nine-point deficit with four minutes left into just three.
From there, Cleveland never got closer than six points against a Wolves team that had lost eight consecutive road games since beating the Nuggets on Jan. 3 in Denver.
"We're competitors," Ridnour said. "As much as you don't want to say it, it takes a toll on you. For us to keep fighting like we have and find a way to battle some of these games out. ... We've been in a lot of games, just haven't won them. This is a good one for us to finally win."