Darius Garland was special, but it wasn’t enough against Minnesota

The Cavs returned home to battle the Timberwolves(6-8) on Sunday after going 2-3 on their five-game road trip, including three straight losses. Unfortunately, they would be without Donovan Mitchell(ankle), Jarrett Allen(ankle), and Dean Wade(knee).

The Cavs cut a 20-point fourth-quarter lead to two and had an opportunity to tie as they trailed 127-124 with 06.5 seconds left, but Kevin Love’s inbound pass was stolen by Rudy Gobert, and Minnesota  held on to defeat the Cavs 129-124 at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.

Cleveland(8-5) has now lost four straight.

Here’s the Great, Not So Great, and the Bottom Line of the Cavs’ loss to Minnesota

Great:

Darius Garland went crazy in the fourth and almost brought the Cavs all the way back. He scored 27 of his career-high 51 points on 16/31 shooting, including 10 threes to go along with six assists. The 16 field goals and 10 threes made are also career highs. He did everything, and I mean everything in his power to bring the Cavs back.

Garland struggled on the west coast trip, so this was a welcomed sight for the Cavs.

Fourth Quarter: Cleveland trailed by as many as 24 points in this contest and was down by 20 entering the fourth. We know what Garland did, but this team played with an energy that was missing in the first 36 minutes of the game. They scored 40 points in the quarter on 52% shooting, including eight threes, six of them by Garland. Conversely, they held Minnesota to 33% shooting. Unfortunately, it was too little, too late.

Not So Great:

Defense for the first three quarters: After three quarters, they allowed Minnesota to score 104 points on 64% shooting. In addition, the Timberwolves shot 52% from deep after three. Minnesota finished the game scoring 54 points in the paint and shooting 56% from the floor, including 50% from downtown.

First Quarter: Cleveland allowed Minnesota to score 40 points in the first. They trailed 40-20 after one. That first quarter set the tone for the rest of the game.

Bottom Line: 

In the first nine games, Cleveland allowed 104 points per game; during the four-game losing streak, the Cavs have allowed 120 points per game. Last season, Cleveland’s defense was one reason the Cavs had success, and they have to regain that defensive identity going forward. Should there be some concern? Maybe, but it’s still very early. 

What’s Next:

Cleveland heads back on the road as they battle the Bucks in Milwaukee on Wednesday night.

Best of the Rest:

D’Angelo Russell led the Timberwolves with 30 points and 12 assists; Karl Anthony Towns added 29 points and 13 rebounds. Minnesota had five players in double figures.

Lamar Stevens added 15 points and six rebounds; Kevin Love and Cedi Osman chipped in with 14 points apiece. Like Minnesota, Cleveland had five players in double figures.