Monday night's game between the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Cleveland Cavaliers felt a little bit like the "C" squad game of a junior high or high school match-up. Yes it was competitive basketball. There were spectators and there were referees. It was an official basketball game, sure, but in the end not that many people were interested.
Both teams are short-handed and on the losing end of crooked win-loss records. One of the teams needed somebody to step up. Luke Ridnour took on that role, leading the Timberwolves to one of their best offensive performances in recent memory. The team shot well and all five starters scored in double digits. After shooting 4-16 from three-point range on Sunday night, the 'Wolves shot a blistering 8-14 from the outside to put the Cavaliers away. That .571 three-point percentage combined with a .520 mark from the field were enough for the team to sustain a late push from Kyrie Irving and company and put away a 100-92 victory.
Ridnour was the story in the second half of the game. On his way to game high 21 points, he hit leaning jumpers, he hit three-point shots, and he hit floaters. Ricky Rubio broke down the defense and set up open shots for his teammates all night, totaling 10 assists on his way to a double-double. Mickael Gelabale continued his efficient play and Nikola Pekovic also contributed a double-double.
Perhaps no sequence better embodied the game than one that involved the one and only Luke Walton. Coming off the bench for the struggling Cavaliers, Walton participated in a series of plays in which he attempted to take a charge in the paint, was set up in the post against Ricky Rubio, and then took a long-range jumper. The results? A no-call, an offensive foul drawn, and an air ball. As sad as it is, that is the context of a game in which the Timberwolves, in their current state, actually stand a fighting chance to win a game in the NBA.
The Timberwolves host the Utah Jazz on Wednesday night before the All Star break this weekend.