After going 2-3 on their five-game road trip which took them to Detroit and California, the Cleveland Cavaliers (8-4) returned to the friendly confines of Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse on Sunday evening to face Rudy Gobert, Karl Anthony-Towns, Anthony Edwards, D'Angelo Russell and the Minnesota Timberwolves (5-8). Coming into Sunday night's game, the Cavs had not lost at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse, so they were hoping that playing at home would be just what the doctor ordered to end their three-game losing streak.
Not only did the Cavaliers have to come home and face a young and dangerous Timberwolves squad after their five-game road trip, but they had to do it without All-Stars Donovan Mitchell and Jarrett Allen, who were both dealing with ankle injuries respectively. Dean Wade also missed the contest with a knee injury.
With Allen and Mitchell both out for the game, Cavaliers head coach J.B. Bickerstaff had to make some adjustments to his starting lineup. Lamar Stevens was in at the small forward, which meant Caris LeVert was moved to the shooting guard. Evan Mobley was moved to the center, and Kevin Love was slotted as the starting power forward.
The T-Wolves wasted no time to take advantage of the sluggish and shorthanded Cavs, as they quickly took the RMFH crowd out of it, hitting the Cavaliers with an absolute haymaker. Minnesota dropped 40 on Cleveland and held a 20-point lead at the end of the first quarter, 40-20.
Although the Cavaliers outscored the Timberwolves 30-27 in quarter No. 2, Minnesota still felt they were fully in control of the game. They were killing the Cavaliers in the paint and getting easy points at the rim, which was a problem that plagued the Cavs throughout the entire game. The absence of Jarrett Allen showed in the first half, as Minnesota put up 24 points in the paint in the first half. Darius Garland beat the halftime buzzer on a 3-pointer to cut the Timberwolves' lead to 67-50 going into the locker room.
due to two technical fouls being called on the Cavs at the end of the first half, before a second came off the clock in the third quarter, Minnesota put two points on the board to extend their lead to 69-50. Throughout the third quarter, the Cavs would get within striking distance where it looked like it was going to become a game. However, the T-Wolves would respond and restore order. Minnesota outscored Cleveland 37-34 to take a 106-84 lead into the fourth quarter.
Even though there were 12 minutes remaining, it felt like it was game, set, match, and Minnesota was going to get out of Cleveland with a comfortable victory. However, the Cavaliers had other ideas, or rather Darius Garland had other ideas. He dropped 27 of his 51 points in the fourth quarter, putting the Cavaliers on his back in an effort to get the team across the finish line.
DG made two clutch free throws with 8.3 seconds to go, which cut the deficit to two points at 126-124. However, D'Angelo Russell hit a free throw on the other end to make it a three-point game at 127-124. After an incrediable comeback in which they were trailing the whole night, the Cavs had a chance to send the game to an extra five-minute quarter, but Love threw away the following inbound pass, which forced the Cavs to foul Taurean Prince. Prince made both free throws to seal the Cavs fate. Cleveland outscored Minnesota 74 to 62 in the second half, but it was ultimately too little too late for the Cavaliers as the Timberwolves escaped Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse with a 129-124 victory.
It was the Cavaliers' first loss of the season at RMFH. Other than Garland's 51-point performance, nobody really contributed much offensively for the Wine and Golders. Top scorers outside of Garland were Stevens with 15 points and Love and Cedi Osman with 14. LeVert had 13 points.
The Cavaliers (8-5) will look to snap their four-game losing streak on Wednesday night when they visit Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks.