STEVE HERRICK, Associated Press
CLEVELAND (AP) — LeBron James scored 27 points, Kyrie Irving had 14 and a career-high 14 assists and the Cleveland Cavaliers, coming off a losing record in January, defeated the Minnesota Timberwolves 125-97 on Wednesday night.
Cleveland, which went 7-8 last month, began February looking like the defending NBA champions. The Cavaliers held a three-point halftime lead and took control midway through the third quarter. James’ three-point play gave the Cavaliers a 90-70 lead.
Cleveland All-Star forward Kevin Love missed his second straight game because of back spasms, but the Cavaliers had five players in double figures in scoring.
James was 11 of 14 from the field, and Irving scored 14 points. Kyle Korver, who has struggled since being acquired from Atlanta last month, scored 20 points, going 8 of 11 from the field and hitting four 3-pointers. Tristan Thompson had 18 points and 14 rebounds.
Karl-Anthony Towns led Minnesota with 26 points and Andrew Wiggins added 23 for the Timberwolves, who won five of six to finish January.
Cleveland went on a 27-10 run to begin the third quarter, forcing Minnesota coach Tom Thibodeau to call timeout twice in the first six minutes. The Cavaliers’ momentum couldn’t be stopped and the lead reached 29 points in the final period.
Minnesota raced to a 10-2 lead causing Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue to call a timeout less than three minutes into the game. Irving had seven points and eight assists in the quarter that ended with both teams shooting nearly 60 percent from the field.
Timberwolves: Minnesota is 13-12 following a 6-18 start. … Thibodeau said the team is in no hurry to add a player even though Minnesota has had an open roster spot since Jan. 7 when it waived G John Lucas III. “If something makes sense, we’ll look at it,” he said.
Cavaliers: Lue hopes Love, who took part in shooting drills Wednesday, will return Saturday when the Cavaliers play in New York. … Lue will have his jersey retired at Nebraska, where he played from 1995-98, on Thursday during the Cornhuskers’ game against Michigan State. … Cleveland selected Wiggins with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 draft, but packaged him in a trade to Minnesota for Love. … The Cavaliers had workouts for several veteran free agents at their training facility Wednesday, including Kirk Hinrich, Mario Chalmers, Lance Stephenson and Jordan Farmar.
James was given the NAACP Jackie Robinson Sports Award before the game. The award is presented for high achievement in athletics and contributions in the pursuit of social justice, civil rights and community involvement.
“It just puts a lot of things in perspective,” James said. “So appreciative that they would even want me to be a recipient of the award.”
Timberwolves: Visit Detroit on Friday. The Pistons snapped their 10-game losing streak against Minnesota on Nov. 20.
Cavaliers: Visit New York on Saturday. Cleveland has won its last six games at Madison Square Garden.
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