Cavaliers struggle to give new coach Lue his 1st win

Cleveland Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue reacts at the Quicken Loans Arena on Jan 25, 2016.
Cleveland Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue reacts at the Quicken Loans Arena on Jan 25, 2016.PHOTO: REUTERS/ USA TODAY SPORTS

CLEVELAND • LeBron James had 25 points and nine assists and the Cleveland Cavaliers survived a late charge for a 114-107 victory on Monday against the Minnesota Timberwolves. It was also Tyronn Lue's first victory in the National Basketball Association as a head coach.

He had replaced David Blatt, who was fired on Friday despite the Cavs (31-12) owning the best record in the Eastern Conference. But his maiden win did not come easy.

A three-point play from Zach LaVine pulled the Timberwolves to 107-110 with 16.5 seconds remaining.

But James sealed the win with a pair of free throws at the other end.

Rookie centre Karl Anthony-Towns had 26 points and 11 rebounds and Andrew Wiggins had 20 points for the Timberwolves, who were trying to win consecutive games for just the second time since November.

Cavs centre Tristan Thompson returned to the starting line-up and had 19 points and 12 rebounds, while Kyrie Irving had 17 points, nine rebounds and four assists.

The Cavs struggled against the inferior Timberwolves (14-32) before going on a spurt that began late in the third quarter and carried over into the fourth.

They had beaten the same opponents by 26 points less than three weeks ago, away in Minnesota.

Cleveland have been trying to play at a faster pace under Lue. The new Cavs head coach is also trying to install more packages for Kevin Love in places where he is comfortable, but it is a work in progress.

Lue did not disagree with the idea the Cavs are almost going back to training camp with their conditioning and new play calls.

"It kind of is (like training camp) because we're putting guys in different situations and spots, trying to put guys in their comfort zone," he said.

"Just trying to open the floor up more and playing with more space."

Over at Sacramento, a career-high 56 points from DeMarcus Cousins were not enough for the Kings as they fell to the Charlotte Hornets 128-129 in double overtime.

No player has scored more than 56 points in a game this season but the Hornets still overcame that haul to win their third consecutive contest.

The visitors had Troy Daniels to thank as he netted his eighth three-pointer of the game with nine seconds left to clinch the victory.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 27, 2016, with the headline 'Cavaliers struggle to give new coach Lue his 1st win'. Print Edition | Subscribe