MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Kevin Love had 36 points and 13 rebounds to lead the Minnesota Timberwolves to a 91-73 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday night.
Luke Ridnour had 12 points, seven assists and five rebounds for the Timberwolves, and Andrei Kirilenko had eight points, seven rebounds and six assists after missing the previous four games with back spasms.
Alonzo Gee scored 16 points and Anderson Varejao grabbed 14 rebounds for the Cavaliers, who have lost four in a row and eight of their last nine while star guard Kyrie Irving has been out with a broken left index finger.
The two teams combined for 41 turnovers and shot 25 percent from 3-point range in an ugly offensive game.
Love missed most of the first month of the season with a broken right hand, and he’s been struggling to regain his shooting touch since returning nine games ago.
“I know I haven’t been the 25 (points) and 10 (rebounds) guy that I usually am. … I haven’t been quite putting up the numbers and helping the team as much as I can,” Love said at the shootaround on Friday morning.
He looked a little more like the All-Star and Olympic gold medalist the Wolves have come to expect against the woeful Cavs, hitting 10 of his 19 shots. He entered the game shooting just 19.6 percent from 3-point range, but made two of his five attempts and also went 14 for 18 at the free throw line.
While Love was terrific in the matchup of two of the game’s best rebounders, Varejao managed just four points on 2-for-10 shooting and lost a streak of 10 straight games with at least 15 boards.
C.J. Miles scored 13 points for Cleveland.
Both teams were missing their playmaking point guards, and it showed in the disjointed mess that was the offense on both sides of the court. Irving missed his 10th straight game and Dion Waiters was out again with a sprained left ankle, robbing the Cavaliers of one of the promising young backcourts in the league.
Once again, the Cavs struggled to create space for easy jumpers, turned the ball over 18 times and really were relegated to hoping for a dunk from Gee on offense. Gee threw down a soaring jam and then knifed through the lane for another two-hander that cut Minnesota’s lead to nine points late in the third quarter. He made seven of his 12 shots, but his teammates went 23 for 75 from the field.
The Timberwolves were similarly sluggish as they wait for Ricky Rubio to play for the first time this season. Luke Ridnour had a couple of nifty Ricky-like behind-the-back passes for easy shots in the first quarter, but it dried up after that. They were shooting under 40 percent until late in the third quarter and missed 12 of their first 14 3-pointers.
NOTES: Varejao did limit Wolves C Nikola Pekovic to four points and one rebound on 0-for-3 shooting. … Cavaliers rookie Kevin Jones made his NBA debut. He had two points and four rebounds in eight minutes. … Former No. 2 overall pick Derrick Williams did not play again for the Wolves, with coach Rick Adelman preferring to give the bulk of the minutes to Love, Dante Cunningham and Greg Stiemsma up front.
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