Smith, Love lead Cavs to 6th straight win over Wolves
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- J.R. Smith scored a season-high 27 points and Kevin Love had 20 points, nine rebounds and four assists in his return to Minnesota to help the Cleveland Cavaliers to their sixth straight win, 125-99 over the Timberwolves on Friday night.
LeBron James added 13 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists, Iman Shumpert had 23 points and the Cavaliers outscored the Timberwolves 22-5 in transition to win for the 12th time in 14 games. Smith made 5 of 6 3-pointers in just 19 minutes and Cleveland was 13 of 27 from long range to cruise to the win.
Andrew Wiggins scored 35 points, Shabazz Muhammad had 22 and Karl-Anthony Towns added 22 for the Timberwolves, who have lost five in a row and nine of their last 10.
Love spent his first six seasons in Minnesota before he was traded last summer in a package that brought Wiggins to the Wolves. Love's pouty demeanor over the last half of his final season here didn't endear him to the fans who once adored him, and they booed him lustily in his return to Target Center last year.
This time around there were a few half-hearted boos from a crowd that seemed like it was doing it out of obligation rather than genuine distaste.
Love only made 4 of 11 shots, but unlike the undermanned Wolves teams he played for, the Cavaliers don't need him to carry the scoring load -- especially when Smith is shooting the lights out like he has been recently. He scored 49 points and hit 13 3s over his previous two games and kept raining them from deep against the Wolves.
Wiggins averaged 30 points in his two games against the Cavaliers last year and came out firing again on Friday night. But Smith matched him shot for shot, consistently drilling 3s over Wiggins' outstretched hand. Twenty-one of Smith's points came in the first half, the same output for Wiggins and Minnesota did not have near the scoring depth to keep pace with Love, James and the rest of the Cavs.
The Wolves led 17-13 early after a flurry from Wiggins, but Cleveland outscored the Wolves 22-10 to finish the first quarter and never looked back.
Kyrie Irving had 13 points in 26 minutes in his eighth game back from a knee injury he suffered in the NBA Finals.
Cavaliers: Cleveland scored 35 points in the first quarter, its highest-scoring opening period of the season. ... Smith moved past Eddie Jones for 20th place on the NBA's career 3-pointers made list. ... PG Mo Williams did not play for the eighth straight game. He has been nursing an injured thumb and has seen his playing time dramatically reduced with Irving's return.
Timberwolves: Steve Kaplan, the minority owner of the Memphis Grizzlies who is working with Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor on a succession plan to eventually take over the franchise in a few years, sat next to Taylor and his wife, Becky, courtside.
Cavaliers: Visit Philadelphia on Sunday.
Timberwolves: Host Dallas on Sunday.