Dating back to their incredible shorthanded run to the 2015 NBA Finals, the Cavaliers have prided themselves on their next-man-up mentality.
So when they received news that Kevin Love would miss significant time following left knee surgery, the Wine and Gold knew exactly what to do – continuing their red-hot roll towards the All-Star Break and sweeping the season series against the T-Wolves, taking the 116-108 decision on Wednesday in Minnesota.
Getting his second start in place against Love against Minnesota, Channing Frye stepped up and tied a season-high with 21 points and 10 boards, going 7-for-15 from the floor to go with a pair of blocked shots.
In those two starts, Frye’s averaging 19.5 points, 7.0 boards and 2.0 blocks.
The Cavaliers used a similar formula to the one that helped them drop Minnesota at The Q two weeks ago – running up a 69-point first half and turning up the defensive intensity down the stretch – holding the talented young T-Wolves to just 15 points in the fourth quarter.
LeBron James topped double-digit assists for the 20th time this year – finishing with 25 points and a team-high 14 helpers, going 10-for-14 from the floor, including 2-of-3 from long range.
Kyrie Irving added 25 points of his own, going 10-for-27 from the floor to go with seven assists, a steal and blocked shot.
Tristan Thompson grabbed double-digit boards for the fourth time in his last five games – notching his 16th double-double of the season with 14 points and 11 boards, going 6-of-7 from the floor in the win.
Cleveland got another big boost off the bench from Derrick Williams, who inked a 10-day deal last week and has impressed in every appearance as a Cavalier – finishing with 13 points in 22 minutes, finishing 5-of-7 from the floor to go with six boards.
In his three games with the Wine and Gold, Williams is averaging 10.7 points per while shooting 77 percent – 10-of-13 – from the floor.
Andrew Wiggins continued to torment the team that originally drafted him – leading everyone with 41 points on 16-for-29 shooting, including 4-of-8 from long-range. To the Cavaliers’ credit, they held the high-flying forward to just four points in the final period.
Karl-Anthony Towns finished with 26 points but just eight boards and Rick Rubio led both squads with 16 assists.