CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) – LeBron James scored 27 points, Kyrie Irving handed out a career-high 14 assists, and the Cleveland Cavaliers overcame some early defensive issues to down the Minnesota Timberwolves at Quicken Loans Arena, 125-97.
James chipped in 12 helpers of his own, while Irving finished with 14 points to go along with his team-high assist total.
“He made all the right reads tonight,” James said of his point guard. “Everybody benefitted from it.”
Tristan Thompson also helped out the Cavs with 18 points and 14 rebounds.
Cleveland trailed by eight early in the first quarter but finished on a 34-22 run to end the opening period. However, the Cavs’ defense struggled to shut down Minnesota in the second quarter and took a three-point advantage, 63-60, to halftime.
The Cavaliers’ defense improved in the third quarter, holding the Timberwolves to 19 points in the period, taking a 14-point edge to the fourth quarter. That effort carried over into the final period, where Cleveland was able to rest their starters in the closing minutes.
Ramping up their defense in the second half, the Cavs blocked a season-high 10 shots on Wednesday night and allowed just 37 points over the final 24 minutes.
“I’ve been saying all season, our staple is on the defensive end,” Irving said.
Kyle Korver (20 points) and Channing Frye (18 points) also provided big efforts for Cleveland, who recorded a season-high 37 assists as a team in the victory.
“It becomes contagious when you’re moving the basketball,” Cavs head coach Tyronn Lue said. “When we’re doing that with the shooters we have we’re pretty dangerous.”
Minnesota, who entered the matchup with eight wins in their past 11 games, was led by Karl-Anthony Towns (26 points and 12 rebounds) and former Cavs no. 1 overall draft pick Andrew Wiggins (23 points) in the loss.
Cavs forward LeBron James received the NAACP Jackie Robinson Sports Award prior to Wednesday’s game.
Footage of the presentation will be aired during the 48th NAACP Image Awards on Saturday, February 11, 2017 at 9 p.m. ET.
The Cavaliers will travel to New York to battle the Knicks on Saturday at Madison Square Garden.
Cleveland hopes Kevin Love will be able to return to action this weekend after missing the past two games due to a continuing bout with back spasms.