Cavs’ Okoro: ‘I feel teams are starting to respect us now’

The Cleveland Cavaliers led the Minnesota Timberwolves from the beginning to the end Friday night. Cleveland jumped out to a 20-4 lead in the first and led by as many as 19 in the opening period. 

Ultimately, Cleveland took a 65-44 lead at halftime. The Cavaliers’ largest lead was 33 points in this one as they routed the Timberwolves 123-106 at Target Center.

Cleveland had seven players in double figures.

After losing two straight, Cleveland(15-12) has now won two in a row and six out of their last eight, while Minnesota lost its fifth consecutive game.

Here is the Great, Not So Great, and the Bottom Line of the Cavs’ win over Minnesota.

The Great for the Cavaliers:

-Isaac Okoro has been up and down on the offensive end this season, but on Friday night, he got it done. The second-year guard scored 11 of his season-high 16 points(7/10 FG) in the first half. Okoro does a lot on the defensive end. However, it was great to see him break out offensively.

-After 27 games, Jarrett Allen is an All-Star, and he continued to play that way against Minnesota. Allen had his second straight double-double as he had a team-high 21 points(9/11 FG) and grabbed 10 rebounds. According to StatMuse, Allen, who is averaging 17.3 points, 11.2 rebounds per contest on 71% shooting, is on pace to become the first player in NBA history to average 15 points, 10 rebounds on 70% shooting in a season.

-Kevin Love has embraced his new role off the bench, and he returned to Minnesota Friday night, where his NBA career began. The 13-year veteran had a double-double with 18 points, including three threes and a game and season-high 13 rebounds. He’s been in double figures three straight and six out of the last seven games.

-Lauri Markkanen was on fire against the Timberwolves. He scored 19 points(7/8 FG), including 4/5 from downtown. In the last three games, Markkanen is averaging 17.6 points on 65% shooting from the field.

-The man who makes it all work, Darius Garland, had a double-double with 12 points and a game-high 12 assists. He had some nifty passes Friday night, including this one to Evan Mobley:

First Half: Cleveland was cooking in the first half. They shot 61.5% from the field, including (7/11) 63% from downtown, and on the defensive end, they limited Minnesota to 32.6% shooting from the floor and forced 10 turnovers. Cleveland led by 21 points at the break, and according to Cavs Notes, the last time the Cavaliers had a 21-point lead at halftime on the road was November 20, 2017.

The Not So Great for the Cavaliers:

There is nothing to see here. Check back another time. Well, we could nitpick about the turnovers(17), but we’ll pass on that for now.

Bottom Line:

Cleveland is now 9-5 on the road and has won four of their last five away from the friendly confines of Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. All four of those road wins have been by at least 15 points. In addition, since November 1, they are 7-2 on the road; the only two teams with better road winning percentages in that timeframe are Brooklyn and Phoenix.

This team gets it done collectively, as evidenced by seven players in double figures and three with double-doubles Friday. Clearly, they are ahead of schedule right now, which is a great thing!

“I feel teams are starting to respect us now, and we got to keep on fighting,” Okoro said post-game.

What’s Next:

The Cavs return home Saturday night against Sacramento as Cleveland will play three straight at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.

Best of the Rest:

-Cedi Osman added 13 points off the Cavs’ bench; Mobley chipped in with 11 points, eight rebounds, and two blocks, and in his return to Minnesota, Ricky Rubio had six points and eight assists.

-Karl Anthony Towns led Minnesota with 21 points, seven rebounds, and three blocks.

Watch below as Markkanen and Okoro react to the big win over Minnesota:

Leave a Reply