CLEVELAND (AP) — C.J. Miles scored 19 points, Kyrie Irving added 15 and the Cleveland Cavaliers held off a late rally for a 93-92 victory over Minnesota on Monday night, handing the Timberwolves their first loss of the season.
The Timberwolves nearly erased a 23-point deficit midway through the third quarter to stay unbeaten.
Cleveland led 93-84, but was scoreless over the final 2:43. Kevin Love’s basket with 38 seconds remaining cut the lead to one point. Following a miss by Irving with 15 seconds left, the Timberwolves called timeout to set up the last shot. Love, the NBA’s leading scorer, missed a 3-pointer with 1.9 seconds remaining and the ball was tipped away as time ran out.
Kevin Martin led the Timberwolves with 23 points. Love added 17 points and 13 rebounds for Minnesota, which won its first three games and was off to its best start since going 6-0 in 2001-02.
Love came into the game leading the NBA in scoring (29.7) and was second in rebounding (14.7). He was chosen the Western Conference player of the week for the first time in his career.
Cavaliers rookie forward Anthony Bennett, taken with the No. 1 pick in the draft, missed all three of his shots and is 0 for 15 from the field this season. His only points have come on two free throws in the season opener.
Cavaliers center Andrew Bynum played 18:40, his longest stint of the season, and scored 10 points with four rebounds. After playing 9:42 in the first half, he returned in the third quarter for the first time in the four games he’s played. Bynum, who missed all of last season with injuries to both knees, said before the game he’s not sure if he will regain the explosiveness he had earlier in his career.
The Timberwolves owned the first quarter in the first three games, averaging a league-high 37.3 points while shooting 55.2 percent from the floor. That included scoring 40 points in Sunday’s win in New York, but Cleveland’s defense brought that to a halt with Minnesota scoring 23 points and hitting 8 of 22 shots.
Minnesota trailed 76-61 going into the fourth quarter and cut the margin to nine points early in the period. Two baskets by Miles and a jumper by Bynum pushed the margin to 84-69, but the Timberwolves weren’t finished, outscoring Cleveland 31-19 in the final period.
Irving had eight rebounds and six assists, but committed nine turnovers and missed two shots down the stretch that would have helped Cleveland extend its lead.
The Cavaliers avoided a third straight loss after a season-opening 98-94 home victory over Brooklyn.
NOTES: Love downplayed his individual award which was announced Monday. “I’ll take a 3-0 start over any individual honor, but it’s cool,” he said. “It just shows that if you win, good things happen for everybody.” ... Cavaliers F Tristan Thompson had 12 points and 11 rebounds. He scored two points and had four rebounds in 35 minutes Saturday against Indiana. ... The Cavaliers play at Milwaukee on Wednesday. ... The Timberwolves host Golden State on Wednesday.