The Minnesota Timberwolves held off a comeback to defeat the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday night.
Takeaways from Minnesota Timberwolves’ win over Cleveland Cavaliers
What does the saying “It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish” mean if those were the two reasons you nearly blew a winnable game?
That is the question the Minnesota Timberwolves are faced with after a wild, thrilling 127-122 victory over the Cavaliers in Cleveland Monday night. A dominant effort in the middle stretch of the game and a tiebreaking 3-pointer from Karl-Anthony Towns with 11 seconds left didn’t totally cover up a shocking inability to open or close the game against a short-handed opponent.
The Wolves continued a concerning recent trend by allowing Cleveland to take a 16-4 lead to open the game, making five straight contests Minnesota has trailed by double-digits in the first quarter. The finish was just as bad; after taking a 98-75 lead with 2:44 left in the third quarter, the Wolves lost the rest of the game 47-29.
And yet, the Timberwolves prevailed. D’Angelo Russell continued to be gangbusters, continuing a month of strong play with timely buckets en route to 25 points. Minnesota built that 23-point third-quarter lead on the back of pure, instinctive aggression; the Wolves outscored Cleveland 19-7 on the fast break and 50-38 in the paint on the night, with much of that production coming in the middle 24 minutes.
“We came out in the third quarter, made a big push, and did our job the way we know how to,” Towns told Katie Storm on Bally Sports’ broadcast after the game. “We showed what we can do when we’re disciplined and playing the game we know how to play, moving the ball. We’re very hard to beat when we’re playing disciplined.”
Minnesota continued to show its inconsistency; the team that wreaked havoc throughout the middle two quarters was hardly recognizable as the unpoised, semi-meek squad that struggled in the first and fourth frames. The highs are matched in magnitude by the lows, but that’s just how it goes with teams trying to learn how to win sometimes.
And of course, it’s nice to have a sweet-shooting big man who can bail you out at the end of games.
“I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: Game is on the line, 32 feels like he can make any shot in the fourth,” Towns said. “When I shot it I started hopping. I already knew it was in.”
Here are three other takeaways from one of the most entertaining games of the season.