Minnesota at Cleveland

LeBron buries misfiring Timberwolves for 37 points, nine boards

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports
  •  

CLEVELAND -- They started the season expecting to be among the NBA's elite teams. And so far, the Cleveland Cavaliers are.

LeBron James scored 37 points and Zydrunas Ilgauskas matched a season high with 14, leading the Cavaliers to their fifth straight win, 92-76 over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday night.

James added nine rebounds and six assists for the Cavs, who improved to an Eastern Conference-best 7-2 and won their first game without guard Larry Hughes. He sprained his right ankle Wednesday against Portland and could miss several games.

It's a significant loss, but the Cavaliers are used to playing without Hughes. He missed 46 games with a broken finger last season, but Cleveland managed to go 27-19 in his absence.

"It shows the caliber of team we are," James said. "We feel we're one of the best teams in the league. We're proving that right now."

Kevin Garnett scored a season-low 14 on 5-of-17 shooting and rookie Craig Smith had 12 for the Timberwolves, who scored only 31 points in the second half and lost for the fifth time in six games.

Minnesota's Ricky Davis was just 2-of-10 and had four points -- 10 below his average -- and the Timberwolves shot 29 percent (10-of-35) from the floor after halftime.

"Our offense in the second half disappeared," coach Dwayne Casey said. "Thirty-one points? You can't expect to beat teams on the road like that."

Ilgauskas, who has averaged 14.9 points in his career, came in getting just 7.6 per game as the 7-foot-3 center has struggled in Cleveland's new motion offense. But the big man scored his 14 in three quarters before sitting the entire fourth.

He wasn't needed as James -- Cleveland's biggest man -- took over. He scored 13 points and hit one of three 3-pointers in the fourth when the Cavaliers opened an 18-point lead and coasted.

Cleveland was only up by four early in the fourth when Damon Jones, who finished with 11 points, hit a jumper and James fed Sasha Pavlovic for a 3-pointer to trigger a 13-2 spurt that put the Timberwolves away.

After James drained a 3-pointer to make it 81-68, Cleveland's superstar stayed back and watched as his teammates took off up court on a fast break. Pavlovic threaded a crosscourt pass underneath to Anderson Varejao, who left a bounce bass for Donyell Marshall, who dunked to make it 83-68 with 3:23 to go.

James finished one point under his season high and got to enjoy the final 1:10 from the bench.

"I didn't force anything," he said.

Garnett did, and never found his touch.

"I rushed a lot of shots," said Garnett, who had 11 rebounds and five steals. "In the fourth they made their run and we never answered it. It was one of those nights, but that's the beauty of this league, there's tomorrow."

Hughes, who has been injury prone during his pro career, arrived at the arena on crutches and in a walking boot. He doesn't know when he'll be back and said he won't place any weight on his leg until Monday -- at the earliest.

The Cavaliers play at Washington on Saturday and have four games in five days next week.

Notes

  • The Cavs are 7-2 for the fourth time. Only the 1976-77 squad that started 8-1 got off to a better start.
  • It's great to be King. James had no worries about landing a precious PlayStation 3. He already had one. The gaming system went on sale Friday, causing long lines and fights outside stores nationwide. "I didn't wait outside either," James said. "I have a lot of connections."
  • Garnett moved past Reggie Theus into 59th place on the career steals list with 1,208.
  • Minnesota C Mark Blount needed stitches to close a cut in his head opened by an elbow from James, who was called for his first career flagrant foul.
  • James' No. 23 jersey was outnumbered by various Ohio State jerseys dotting the arena. He predicted a 24-21 Buckeyes win and two touchdowns by friend Ted Ginn Jr.
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
 
 
CBSSports Facebook Google Plus
COMMENTS
Conversation powered by Livefyre
None of the Timberwolves has an answer for LeBron, who tallies 37 points, nine boards and six assists.  (AP)
None of the Timberwolves has an answer for LeBron, who tallies 37 points, nine boards and six assists. (AP)

Scoreboard
Minnesota (3-5) 2223171476
Cleveland (7-2) «2220242692
MIN:K. Garnett 14 Pts
MIN:K. Garnett 11 Reb
MIN:M. James 6 Ast
CLE:L. James 37 Pts
CLE:D. Gooden 9 Reb
CLE:L. James 6 Ast
Players of the Game
ClevelandMinnesota

L. James

K. Garnett
PtsRebsAstPtsRebsAst
379614111
Minnesota
K. Garnett, PF385-174-5111314
T. Hassell, SF343-62-23039
R. Davis, SG312-100-01224
M. James, PG313-85-506211
M. Blount, C213-74-641310
C. Smith, PF275-92-2101412
M. Jaric, PG210-11-20221
T. Hudson, PG174-60-01108
E. Griffin, PF103-50-02026
R. Foye, PG100-41-22021
M. Madsen, CDid Not Play
B. Wright, SGDid Not Play
J. Reed, SFDid Not Play
R. McCants, SGDid Not Play
Totals 28-7319-2434142376
 38.4%79.2% 
Cleveland
L. James, SF4112-2411-1496137
D. Wesley, SG252-63-41118
Z. Ilgauskas, C226-112-281214
E. Snow, PG210-01-21311
D. Gooden, PF210-51-29021
D. Jones, PG295-81-112311
A. Varejao, PF281-33-38135
S. Pavlovic, SF263-90-04037
D. Marshall, PF252-61-24126
S. Brown, SG11-10-00002
D. Gibson, PG10-00-00100
S. Pollard, CDid Not Play
L. Hughes, SGDid Not Play
I. Newble, SFDid Not Play
D. Jones, PFDid Not Play
Totals 32-7323-3045161892
 43.8%76.7% 
Other Games
NJ 100 Final
Ind 91
Port 90 Final
Bos 118
NY 100 Final
Mia 76
Wash 91 Final
Det 100
Chi 83 Final
SA 100
Dal 115 Final
Mem 103
Tor 100 Final
LAL 107
Phi 94 Final
Pho 106
Utah 118 Final
Sea 109