When Kevin Martin had to be scratched about 30 minutes before tipoff because of an illness, the Minnesota Timberwolves were in desperate need of another scorer to fill in.
Corey Brewer has done everything else in his short time back in Minnesota, so why not him?
Brewer scored 27 points, Kevin Love had 33 points, eight rebounds and six assists, and the Timberwolves beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 124-95 on Wednesday night.
"I checked to see if it (said) Kevin Martin on the back," Ricky Rubio said of Brewer. "He was wearing his jersey or something. He was making shots and he was being Corey too, running on the fast break. He’s been great for us."
Rubio had a career-high 16 assists to go with 16 points, six rebounds and three steals, and the Timberwolves outscored Cleveland 29-6 in transition points to run the Cavaliers out of the building.
Martin is the team’s second-leading scorer, averaging 24.6 points and shooting 55.8 percent on 3s.
Normally a reluctant shooter who feasts on easy opportunities on the break, Brewer morphed into an aggressive scorer in the first half to ease any concerns about Martin’s absence. Brewer scored the first nine points for Minnesota and 12 in the first quarter to get the Wolves out quickly.
He hit all five of his 3-pointers and helped lock down Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters on the other end. His energy carried over in a dominant first half. The Wolves outscored the Cavs 22-0 on the fast break and scored 16 points off seven turnovers to rack up 70 points in the first 24 minutes.
"It was fun tonight," Brewer said. "We were passing the ball. Ricky had a great night. Kevin Love had a great night. The game’s easy when you’re passing the ball."
Irving scored 20 points on 8-for-17 shooting and survived a nasty collision in the first quarter for the Cavaliers. Anderson Varejao had 13 points and five rebounds starting for Andrew Bynum, who missed the game for personal reasons. The Cavs fell to 0-6 on the road this season.
"Things that we’re not doing out there, things that need to be addressed within the locker room doors that are going to continue to be addressed," Irving said. "We just have to do better next time."
The Wolves led by as many as 39 points, allowing their starters to sit the entire fourth quarter and get some much-needed rest during a grueling start to the schedule.
The Cavaliers were caught flat-footed. They were outrebounded 49-37, outscored in the paint 56-32 and surrendered 100 points before there were 10 minutes gone in the third quarter.
One game after coach Mike Brown surprised everyone by inserting Bynum into the starting lineup, the Cavs were without their center while he tended to a family matter. Bynum is expected to miss two games, and the Cavs said it had nothing to do with his bothersome knees or an eyebrow-raising comment he made recently about having considered retirement. Bynum is expected to return on Saturday against Washington.
Irving came into the game shooting just 37.7 percent while he gets adjusted to a new system in Brown’s first season. Brown said he wasn’t worried about the early season slump, but the coach clearly was concerned when his star player hit the deck hard after taking an inadvertent elbow from Brewer with under five minutes to play in the first quarter.
Irving appeared to be a little woozy as he walked to the locker room holding a towel to his jaw. He was taken for X-rays, which came back negative, and returned in the second quarter.
In a rocky start to his first season back on the Cavs bench, Brown tried to offer some encouragement after the ugly performance.
"Obviously after a performance like that, you’re concerned," Brown said. "But I thought we fought. We’re nine games in and we’re going to keep on going forward."
NOTES: Cavs F Anthony Bennett, the No. 1 overall pick, scored six points on 3-for-11 shooting. The point total was a career high for the struggling rookie. … Rubio also had three steals and has had at least one in 30 straight games, the longest active streak in the league. … The Wolves scored 38 points in the first quarter. They are averaging 33.4 points in the first quarter this season. … Wolves rookie Robbie Hummel got his first start and finished with 10 points.