Kurt Rambis kept the same starting lineup -- Gomes in, Love out -- as he used Tuesday in New York.

Different result.

Sort of.

The Wolves still lost, their fifth consecutive, their ninth in the last 10 and 14 in the last 16, although this time Kurt Rambis praised his team's "focus" and "effort" after Saturday's 33-point loss at Milwaukee and Tuesday's 27-point loss at New York.

This time, though, they didn't trail 15-0 to start, as they did Tuesday against a Knicks team that had lost by 50 points at home Sunday to Dallas.

This time, they led by four points early, then were outdone by a Cavs team that now owns the NBA's best record, 36-11.

The Wolves pulled within as few as 10 points late in the game, but tonight's game shows just far a road they must travel from their current state to mere respectabiltiy and then beyond to championship-contender.

They looked tiny compared to a Cavs team that plays LeBron at small forward, Shaq at center and J.J. Hickson at power forward and then brings Anderson Varejao and Zydrunas Ilgauskas off the bench.

The Cavs didn't have injured guards Delonte West and Mo Williams tonight.

Hickson is something of an afterthought in their lineup, and tonight he scored a career-high 23 points in fewer than 25 minutes the same day the second-year forward from North Carolina was left out of the All Star Rookie Challenge rookie-sophomore game.

His play tonight shows just how much the Wolves frontcourt lacks length and athleticism, even though Kevin Love and Al Jefferson both got back on the double-double trains tonight.

It has been a long day, starting in New York City and ending here in the snow late tonight in Cleveland.

So...

here's my game story from tonight

www.startribune.com/sports/wolves/82827657.html

and the day's notebook details the selection of Love and Flynn to the rookie-sophomore game in Dallas next month

www.startribune.com/sports/wolves/82857692.html

That's all tonight. Phil Miller's got practice Thursday. I'll be back for Friday's home game against the Clippers.