James leads Cavs past Timberwolves for Lue’s first
CLEVELAND (AP) — Tyronn Lue has had a hectic few days. He now has his first win as an NBA coach.
LeBron James scored 25 points to lead six players in double figures and the Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the Minnesota Timberwolves 114-107 on Monday night.
Cleveland lost to Chicago on Saturday, a day after Lue replaced David Blatt, who was fired on Friday.
Lue was presented the game ball in the locker room following the win.
“It’s only been two games, but to get my first head coaching win, it means a lot,” he said. “I came in the locker room, the team presented me with the game ball, LeBron gave a speech and they all gave me a hug and said congratulations.”
“It’s a special moment for anyone,” James said. “It could be a rookie player, a rookie head coach. When you get that first win it’s very special. You never forget it.”
Lue admitted the last few days have been a whirlwind.
“Things are still moving fast for me,” he said. “I’m not used to it yet, but I think I’m ready for it. I think after tonight and the Phoenix game (Wednesday), I think things will start to slow down.”
The timing of Lue’s promotion came as a shock considering the Cavaliers have the best record in the Eastern Conference. A lackluster loss to Chicago didn’t help, but Lue understands the expectations he’s inherited.
“It comes with the territory,” he said. “When you coach this type of team, a team who has aspirations of winning a championship, it’s going to be like this.”
The Cavaliers struggled with the Timberwolves before going on a spurt that began late in the third quarter and carried over into the fourth.
Cleveland still had to hold off a run by the Timberwolves, who cut a 15-point lead to 94-91 midway through the fourth. Tristan Thompson scored seven straight points and Matthew Dellavedova hit a 3-pointer, giving Cleveland a 104-91 lead.
Thompson had 19 points with 12 rebounds and Dellavedova scored 18 points.
Karl-Anthony Towns led Minnesota with 26 points and 11 rebounds. Zach LaVine scored 21 points while Andrew Wiggins added 20.
The Cavaliers selected Wiggins with the No. 1 pick in the 2014 draft, but traded him to Minnesota in the deal that brought Kevin Love to Cleveland. Love scored 11 points and is averaging 16.3 against his former team.
“They made runs, we made runs,” said Wiggins, who is averaging 28.8 points in four game against Cleveland. “They made the last run, and that won the game.”
Minnesota forward Kevin Garnett missed the game with a sore right knee.
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Lue wants the Cavaliers to play at a faster tempo with the hope it will open up the floor and result in more opportunities for easy baskets.
“This is what coach wants,” James said. “This isn’t a LeBron thing. I’m talking out of IQ of the game, but this is what coach wants to do, so this is what we’re going to do.”
Lue thinks the players need to be in better shape to play at the tempo he would like.
“I don’t think I’m in bad shape at all, just need to get in better shape for what we want to do, but I’m not that far off,” James said. “I can get there in less than a week.”
Garnett left Saturday’s game against Memphis in the first half and didn’t return. He’s listed as day to day. “KG doesn’t play a lot (14.5 minutes), but in those first 6-7 minutes, he does such a good job talking and teaching the young guys what to do,” coach Sam Mitchell said.
Timberwolves: G Kevin Martin (sore right wrist) also missed the game. He’s averaging 11.3 points in 41 games. ... F Adreian Payne was assigned to Erie of the NBA Development League. ... Minnesota hasn’t won on the road since Dec. 20, a 100-85 victory over Brooklyn, a stretch of nine games.
Cavaliers: Lue is still operating under the contract he signed to be an assistant coach before last season and has yet to sign a deal as head coach. “Still trying to get some things done and it hasn’t been signed,” he said. “I’m not worried about it.” ... Lue said former Suns assistant Mike Longabardi will be added to Cleveland’s staff.
Timberwolves: Host Oklahoma City on Wednesday
Cavaliers: Host Phoenix on Wednesday.