CLEVELAND (AP) — All the losses and injuries had been piling up for weeks on the Timberwolves. They were shaken, unsure, almost helpless to stop them.
They were desperate for a break. And finally, they got one.
Luke Ridnour scored 21 points, Ricky Rubio added 13 and 10 assists and Minnesota snapped an eight-game road losing streak, beating the Cleveland Cavaliers 100-92 on Monday night.
“We needed that bad, man,” Ridnour said.
He made a critical 3-pointer with 1:43 left and scored 13 points in the fourth quarter for the banged-up Timberwolves, who hadn’t won on the road since Jan. 3 — star center Kevin Love’s last game before he was lost indefinitely with a broken hand.
Nikola Pekovic added 16 points and 10 rebounds as Minnesota ended a four-game losing streak and improved to just 4-16 since losing Love.
“It’s been a long month for us,” Ridnour said. “It’s always tough. We’re competitors. You want to win games. Losing, as much as you don’t want to say it, takes a toll on you. This is a good one for us.”
Kyrie Irving scored 20 points and Tristan Thompson had 16 for the Cavs, who were within 82-81 in the fourth before Ridnour sparked a 10-2 run by the Timberwolves. Minnesota shot 75 percent (12 of 16) in the fourth quarter, leaving Cleveland swingman C.J. Miles to call out his teammates.
“We basically did it to ourselves,” he said. “They made some tough shots — don’t take anything away from them — but for the most part, we gave the game to them. We just don’t get it. It was just a poor effort from the start. It just didn’t look like we were interested.”
Cavs coach Byron Scott was at a loss to explain perhaps his team’s worst loss this season.
“I’m baffled,” Scott said. “We had a little adversity and we scattered. We didn’t come together.”
Before the game, Minnesota coach Rick Adelman said the losing and mounting injuries had taken a toll on his players.
“When you go through the things we’ve had to go through the last two or three weeks, it wears on you mentally,” said Adelman, who recently took an extended absence to be with his wife, Mary Kay, as she recovers from seizures. “They’re human. You get out there and bust your tails and lose a close game in the last minute it starts to wear on you big time.”
At one point in the second half, a frustrated Rubio slapped the padded basket support after picking up a foul on a charge.
Afterward, Adelman praised his players for persevering.
“In this league you’ve got to be mentally tough enough to get through it,” he said. “You’ve got to find a way to win. I hope it’s a big boost for us.”
Irving, whose late-game heroics have led Cleveland to some recent wins, tried to rally the Cavs but couldn’t. He had two bad misses and a turnover in a three-minute stretch.
Still, the Cavs were within striking distance when Thompson made two free throws to pulled Cleveland within 92-89 with 1:56 remaining. But Ridnour, who always seems to play well against Cleveland, buried his key 3-pointer from the right side and hit another short jumper with 9 seconds left to cap just Minnesota’s second win in 12 games.
Derrick Williams had 13 points and Mickael Gelabale and Alexey Shved added 11 apiece for the Timberwolves.
Irving rolled his left ankle late in the first half when he landed on Shved’s foot after making a 3-pointer. Irving hopped around in obvious pain but stayed in the game for a few more seconds. He was then replaced and limped to the locker room for treatment.
Irving played his usual minutes in the second half. He was not available following the game, and was seen getting treatment in the trainer’s room.
Notes: Irving said he hasn’t given much thought to he and LeBron James some day playing together. James can opt out of his contract after the 2014 season and there has been speculation he might return to Cleveland. “The potential is endless if it ever did happen,” Irving said. “Obviously, I would be 22 and still a young guy.” Irving said he and James “talk often.” … Wolves G J.J. Barea played 15 minutes after missing Sunday’s game with a sprained left foot. Minnesota was also without Andrei Kirilenko (strained quad), F Chase Budinger (knee surgery), G Brandon Roy (knee) and G Malcolm Lee (knee, hip surgery).
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