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Cavs overmatched against Timberwolves, lose fourth straight game

(Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

CLEVELAND - The Cleveland Cavaliers (8-5) hosted the Minnesota Timberwolves (6-8) on Sunday night. Both teams were badly in need of a win, having each lost three consecutive games. The Timberwolves were ultimately the team that snapped their slide by a score of 129-124, taking advantage of some Cavaliers injuries. Fans were robbed of what could've been a fascinating matchup between two similarly built teams, both of whom typically start two seven-footers, but they got quite a show regardless. Jarrett Allen was out for Cleveland, along with MVP candidate Donovan Mitchell, and backup wing Dean Wade, while Naz Reid was inactive for Minnesota. Allen and Mitchell were replaced in the starting lineup by Kevin Love and Lamar Stevens.

(Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

This game appeared over from the jump, as the T-Wolves needed just one quarter to open up a 40-20 lead. Their hot start can largely be credited to the much-maligned D'Angelo Russell, who was on fire early, finishing the first half with 17 points on 7/8 from the field. Meanwhile, down in the post, Rudy Gobert grabbed eight rebounds in the first half, as Evan Mobley struggled to shoulder the majority of the responsibility of stopping the Timberwolves bigs. The second and third quarters were evenly played, with Minnesota maintaining their 20 point lead heading into the final period.

Then, a shift happened. Darius Garland, who was clearly asked to be more aggressive scoring the ball with Mitchell sidelined, simply couldn't miss. His 24 points going into the quarter were already well above his season average. He proceeded to double that number, and then some. Garland willed the Cavaliers back into the game with help from a well rounded scoring effort by Love (14 points), Stevens (15 points), Caris LeVert (13 points), and Cedi Osman 14 points). After trailing by as many as 24, the Cavs pulled within three points late in the game. For a team that has struggled to hold leads thus far this year, it looked like Cleveland was finally going to flip the script.

Unfortunately for the Cavs, though, even Garland's incredible performance wasn't enough to overcome the early hole they dug for themselves. After Cleveland pulled within striking distance, Rudy Gobert came up clutch with a blocked a shot and heavily contesting another on back to back possessions to slow the Cavaliers momentum. Cleveland stayed in it to the end, but ultimately came up just short, collecting their fourth loss in a row.

(Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

Game MVP: Darius Garland Garland had the night of his life after struggling for a good portion of this season. Still working his way past a nasty eye injury, he took on the primary scorer assignment after being more of a playmaker with Mitchell on the floor. And did he ever deliver. Garland scored a ridiculous 51 points on 16/31 from the field and an absurd 10/15 three point shooting performance. Not only did his 51 points clear his previous career high by a full 10 points, but they also marked the highest single-game point total for any player this season. That record lasted all of one hour, with Joel Embiid dropping 59 later on Sunday night.) And just in case his astounding point total wasn't enough, he also tacked on a half dozen assists and a pair of steals. D'Angelo Russell had a standout performance for the Timberwolves, but it's safe to say that despite the loss, Garland fully deserves to be the MVP of this game.

Facts and Figures: - Darius Garland had 51 points, six assists, and two steals on 53% from the field and 66% from three

- D'Angelo Russell scored 30 points on a remarkable 85% from the floor and dished out 12 assists

- Russell was one of three Timberwolves with double-doubles, the other two being Gobert and Karl-Anthony Towns

- Lamar Stevens scored 15 points and grabbed six rebounds for Cleveland in his first legitimate minutes of the season

- Former Cavalier Taurean Prince scored 19 points for Minnesota

(Photo by David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images)

Takeaways: - Darius Garland and D'Angelo Russell haters should both be sufficiently disappointed with the game's outcome, as both looked like the best player on the floor for their team.

- Even in a high-scoring win, there were moments where it was very clear that the Timberwolves spacing and chemistry is lacking. Chris Finch needs to find a solution to the Rudy Gobert dilemma quickly.

- Isaac Okoro has a pulse! He scored eight points and had three steals, even making his first three-pointer this season.

- Where was Jarrett Allen at? Donovan Mitchell was shown on the Cavs bench throughout the game, but did Allen just decide not to show up?

- Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse is home to one of the best atmospheres in the NBA.

- The Cavs City Edition uniforms are pretty average in-game, but the court is very clean.

Cavs Next Game: @ Bucks The Cavaliers will head take a quick one game trip to Milwaukee before returning home for a four game stand. The Bucks currently sit atop the Eastern Conference at 10-2 despite a slew of various injuries, so the Cavs will need all hands on deck. The good news for Cleveland is they do get two full days off for Mitchell, Allen, and Wade to heal up ahead of their tilt with the Deer.

Follow Along: Be sure to follow @Cavs_District on Twitter for in-game updates, live analysis, team stats, and more!

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