NBA: Offense lends assist to Cavs in win over Wolves
CLEVELAND -- On the day the Cleveland Cavaliers intensified their search for more playmakers, the two they have helped set a season-high in assists. For at least one night, the Cavaliers' explosive offense played to their potential.
CLEVELAND - On the day the Cleveland Cavaliers intensified their search for more playmakers, the two they have helped set a season-high in assists. For at least one night, the Cavaliers' explosive offense played to their potential.
Kyrie Irving passed for a career-high 14 assists to go with 14 points and LeBron James had 27 points and 12 assists in the Cavaliers' 125-97 NBA victory Wednesday over the Minnesota Timberwolves. It was a much-needed jolt to start the month of February after the Cavs struggled through a miserable 7-8 January.
The 37 assists were a season high and it was the most points the Cavs scored in a game since a Dec. 7 home win against the Knicks. They've now won three of their last four games.
"Are we going to have 37 assists every night? No. We have to make shots still, but the way Kyrie was moving the ball, myself, got guys involved, guys felt good when the ball got to them and they just locked and loaded and shot," James said. "We have to continue to do a great job and see what happens."
Irving and James combined for 26 of the Cavs' 37 assists - which is why they held a free-agent workout earlier in the day featuring Mario Chalmers, Kirk Hinrich, Jordan Farmar and Lance Stephenson. James has been persistent in mentioning the Cavs' need for more playmakers.
Coach Tyronn Lue didn't want to comment on the workout other than to say it went well. He also didn't indicate if the Cavs intended to sign any of the quartet.
"We're just continuing to look at ways to get better," Lue said. "Not sure if it's point guard, not sure if it's a playmaker, not sure if it's a big. Just starting the process of looking and seeing what we can find. That's it."
Tristan Thompson scored 18 points and grabbed 14 rebounds, Channing Frye scored 18 points starting in place of the injured Kevin Love and Kyle Korver scored 20 points off the bench. Eight of Thompson's rebounds were offensive boards.
"You have to take him off the boards," Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns said of Thompson. "That's his specialty. You have a game plan to take him off the boards. We let him play to his strength."
Towns scored 26 points and grabbed 12 rebounds and Andrew Wiggins scored 23 points against his former team. The Timberwolves lost for only the fourth time in their last 12 games.
"The first five minutes of the third, I thought we settled for long shots, we didn't play inside-out and did a poor job of having the floor balanced," Minnesota coach Tom Thibodeau said. "They got in the open floor. Then they did a good job of attacking us."
The Cavs started slowly before building a 20-point lead in the third quarter. Irving's layup in transition off a pass from James pushed the lead to 90-70 with four minutes left in the third and the Cavs weren't really challenged again.
It has been an eventful week for James, who blistered TNT analyst Charles Barkley following Monday's loss at Dallas. James dug up all of Barkley's public failings in an interview with ESPN after Barkley said James asking for more help is proof he doesn't like to compete.
James showed no remorse Wednesday for calling out Barkley's past, which included throwing a man through a window and insisting he's not a role model.
"I know what I said and I meant it," James said. "I don't know what he said (in response). I don't get involved with it."
• F Andrew Wiggins is averaging 28.8 points against the Cavs, the team that drafted him No. 1 overall in 2014. It's his highest average against any team in the league. "When you come to a team and you're the No. 1 pick and you get traded, if you're a great player, a player that's competitive, you're going to try and play great against that team," Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said. "He's done that."
• James was presented with the NAACP's Jackie Robinson Award prior to the game for his work pursuing social justice, civil rights and community involvement.
• Lue will have his No. 10 jersey retired at Nebraska on Thursday night. Lue, 39, said it took this long because the school previously had a policy not to retire jerseys of players who didn't graduate from there.