MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Kevin Love had 33 points, eight rebounds and six assists, Ricky Rubio added 16 points and a career-high 16 assists, and the Minnesota Timberwolves beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 124-95 on Wednesday night.
Corey Brewer scored 27 points for Minnesota while filling in for Kevin Martin, who was out with an illness, and the Timberwolves outscored Cleveland 29-6 in transition points to run the Cavaliers out of the building.
Kyrie 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.
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.
Things didn’t look good before tipoff when it was determined that Martin, the team’s second-leading scorer who has been on an offensive tear to start the season, would miss the game. Shooting guard is the thinnest spot on the team’s roster, so coach Rick Adelman moved Brewer into that spot and gave rookie Robbie Hummel his first start at small forward.
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.
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.
The Cavaliers were caught flat-footed. They were out-rebounded 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.
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. … Hummel finished with 10 points.