Lowly Wolves look to beat Cavs on consecutive nights
The Cleveland Cavaliers are banking that the comforts of home will help reverse their recent fortunes.
The Cavaliers look to rebound from yet another road loss on Monday when they open a four-game homestand against the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Minnesota, which has all of five wins on the season, handed Cleveland its fourth loss in five games overall and seventh in 10 away from home with a 109-104 decision on Sunday.
The Timberwolves made 16 of 40 attempts from 3-point range, while the Cavaliers connected on just 4 of 16 shots from beyond the arc.
Malik Beasley and rookie Anthony Edwards each scored 23 points, with the former making five shots from 3-point range and the latter four times.
"Twenty-three points from a 19-year-old rookie is fantastic, but we're not asking him to do that every night," Minnesota coach Ryan Saunders said of Edwards. "We're just asking him to continue to grow, and he's doing that."
Edwards, the top overall pick of the 2020 NBA Draft, is averaging 19.2 points over his past five games.
"We had to play with more grit," Edwards said in a Fox Sports North postgame interview. "We just had to be all over the place because we were undersized. So, we had to be physical, fast and flying around."
The reason the Timberwolves were undersized was the continued absence of Karl-Anthony Towns (COVID-19 protocol) in addition to Naz Reid, who has missed the last two games with a wrist injury.
The Cavaliers exploited the interior to the tune of scoring a season-high 72 points in the paint. Turnovers, however, were their undoing, with Darius Garland and Collin Sexton combining for nine of the team's season-high 19 on the night.
"They're big. Seventy-two points in the paint is a lot. Part of that with them is the size advantage that they do have on the inside," Saunders said. "I liked the fouls that Ed (Davis) used. I liked a number of things that these guys did. I thought it was the definition of a team win. But you can't be satisfied because games come quick. We run it back (Monday)."
On the flipside, Cleveland coach J.B. Bickerstaff hasn't been too satisfied with his team's play over the last two games.
"There's been instances these last two games, in my mind, that we have not played to the standard of being the most competitive team and the most selfless team on the floor," Bickerstaff said. "I think that was the case for a lot of (Sunday). I thought we got to a place where we built a lead and we got away from being who we are."
Andre Drummond recorded 25 points and 22 rebounds, and Sexton added 16 while playing through an ankle injury that could affect his status for Monday's game.
Garland finished with 17 points. He also had a pretty accurate response as to why the Cavaliers lost on Sunday.
"We beat ourselves," Garland said.
Cleveland will look to prevent history from repeating itself on back-to-back nights on Monday.
--Field Level Media
Updated February 1, 2021