Basketball: Clueless Cleveland Cavaliers take a beating

Minnesota centre Karl-Anthony Towns shooting as Cleveland forward LeBron James attempts to block him. The Cavs lost for the second time in third games on their road trip.
Minnesota centre Karl-Anthony Towns shooting as Cleveland forward LeBron James attempts to block him. The Cavs lost for the second time in third games on their road trip.PHOTO: REUTERS

Wolves led by as many as 41pts in rout, Cleveland's Thomas ejected in 3rd quarter

MINNEAPOLIS (Minnesota) • Perhaps the only positive the Cleveland Cavaliers could take away from their 127-99 thrashing by the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday night was that there were no serious injuries.

Other than that, the National Basketball Association (NBA) clash at the Target Centre was a total embarrassment for Tyronn Lue and his men, who were at a loss for words.

It was a game in which the Cavaliers allowed the most points, trailed by more, and were defeated by more than at any time this season.

"Tonight, I don't know what tonight was," Cleveland's Kevin Love told ESPN.

"It was just ugly. We were getting good shots up, I think, all the way around. We got really good shots to start the game. They just didn't fall and that kind of held true throughout the entire game, and it seemed like they hit everything.

"So it's easy to say it's just one of those nights, but in a lot of cases there's a lot of things that we can do better."

The Timberwolves (26-16) humbled Cavaliers star LeBron James and led by as many as 41 points en route to their victory.

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    Points LeBron James managed against Minnesota, his lowest tally since 2007.

Andrew Wiggins scored 25 points to pace a Minnesota team who led from start to finish against a Cleveland (26-14) side who lost for the second time in three outings on a five-game trip.

Karl-Anthony Towns - the only Timberwolves starter to play in the fourth quarter - added 19 points with 12 rebounds and forward Taj Gibson added another double-double of 16 points and 13 rebounds.

Jimmy Butler flirted with a triple-double, amassing 21 points with nine assists and eight rebounds while playing a key role in limiting four-time NBA Most Valuable Player James to 10 points (his lowest since October 2007), eight rebounds and five assists.

"It happens," was how Cavaliers coach Lue described the rout.

"It happens three or four times a year to a lot of teams. We're not normally a team that gets beat like that.

"We haven't been able to stop teams as of late. Defence problem areas are just one-on-one off the dribble, pick-and-roll has been our Achilles' heel. And transition. They got all three tonight."

James and the rest of the Cavs starters also sat out the fourth quarter - although for Isaiah Thomas that absence came courtesy of his third-quarter ejection.

Thomas was tossed when he reached out towards a driving Wiggins and caught the Minnesota forward under the chin. Assessed a flagrant-2 foul, Thomas was immediately ejected, although he said he was merely reaching in for a steal.

He said: "I apologised right away because I knew I didn't mean to do that. I'm just glad he's all right."

Thomas was playing his third game for the Cavs after a hip injury had sidelined him since he joined the team in a pre-season trade.

In his first two games back, the Cavs averaged 129 points a game, but they never fired on Monday.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 10, 2018, with the headline 'Clueless Cavs take a beating'. Print Edition | Subscribe