LeBron makes Love a winner in return to Minnesota, 106-90
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- LeBron James scored 16 of his 36 points in the fourth quarter to win a stirring duel with rookie Andrew Wiggins, leading the Cleveland Cavaliers to a 106-90 victory over the Timberwolves in Kevin Love's first game back in Minnesota since he was traded.
James kicked things into gear in the final nine minutes. He scored 13 straight points for the Cavs, who have won 10 straight.
Wiggins had 33 points and four steals for the Timberwolves (8-39), who gave Love and the Cavaliers all they could handle in front of a standing-room-only crowd.
Love was booed heavily and finished with 14 points on 6-for-14 shooting and 17 rebounds.
Thaddeus Young scored 19 points and Nikola Pekovic had 14 points and 12 rebounds for the Timberwolves, but they were just 3-for-19 in the fourth quarter.
Trailing by five points early in the fourth, James responded by thundering to the rim for a dunk, hitting a 3-pointer, three free throws and another 3 over Wiggins' outstretched hand to give the Cavs a 94-87 lead with five minutes to play.
Love was traded to Cleveland in August in the blockbuster deal of the summer, bringing Wiggins, the No. 1 overall pick, Anthony Bennett and Thaddeus Young to Minnesota. Love made three All-Star teams as a Timberwolves forward, but never made the playoffs. And he drew the fans' hire by requesting a trade at the end of last season.
But he wanted to come to Cleveland to team with James and chase titles, and now the Cavs are finally starting to play like the team that entered the season as heavy favorites.
Love was booed throughout the game, except for during a brief video tribute in the first quarter highlighting his six seasons in Minnesota. The cheers were especially loud when the video touched on his work in the community that included a coat drive that supplied thousands of winter coats to people in need.
When the video was over, all the good will went out the window. Every touch of the ball was booed. Every missed shot was cheered as loudly as a Wiggins dunk, and there were plenty of those, too.
Wiggins gave James everything he had, hitting him with a beauty of an up-and-under in the post and out-running him to a loose ball and throwing down a dunk to get a rare sellout crowd roaring. His 3-pointer in Tristan Thompson's face brought the Wolves within two late in the first half.
Wiggins had 23 points on 10-for-15 shooting in the first half alone, giving the undermanned Timberwolves reason to believe that they could hang around.
Injuries to Mo Williams (hip), Zach LaVine (ankle) and Ricky Rubio (ankle) left the Wolves with just one healthy point guard for the game in Lorenzo Brown, who just signed a 10-day contract on Wednesday. Brown had one point and nine assists and played almost the entire game.
Cavaliers: Earlier in the week, the Timberwolves produced a tongue-in-cheek video touting the return of Mike Miller, who spent one season in Minnesota as a jab at Love's comeback. "Every time I play somewhere I feel a connection," Miller said. ... Kyrie Irving had a quiet night with 12 points on 4-for-16 shooting.
Timberwolves: Rubio plans to play on Monday against Dallas, ending a 43-game absence with an injured left ankle. ... Flip Saunders said F Shabazz Muhammad (oblique) was making some progress in his rehab, but the team wouldn't have a clear timeline for his return until next week. ... The 19-year-old Wiggins became the first teenager to score at least 23 points in a half since Irving did it in 2012.
Cavaliers: Host Philadelphia on Monday.