The Cleveland Cavaliers, especially All-Star guard Kyrie Irving, have vastly improved over the past two weeks and are enjoying the recent comforts of Quicken Loans Arena.
The Cavaliers, though coming off a losing effort this weekend to Denver, will resume a seven-game homestand Monday versus the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Cavs had won three in a row and six of eight games before dropping a 111-103 decision to the Nuggets on Saturday.
"We ran into a team playing very good basketball," Cleveland coach Byron Scott said. "I'm not disappointed in our effort. Tonight, they were a better team."
Irving, who entered the night averaging 25.5 ppg with eight 30-point efforts since Jan. 4, paced Cleveland with 26 points, six rebounds and seven assists. Irving is currently sixth in the NBA with 24.0 ppg.
Alonzo Gee scored 20 points and Wayne Ellington added 13 off the bench for the Cavaliers, who were outscored in the paint, 62-32, but scored 24 points off 20 Denver turnovers.
The Cavaliers still have San Antonio and New Orleans scheduled to pay a visit.
Minnesota will limp into the Forest City losers in four straight and 15 of its last 17 games.
The Timberwolves dropped their eighth in a row on the road Sunday in a 105-88 setback against the Memphis Grizzlies. Ricky Rubio and Luke Ridnour recorded 17 points apiece in the loss as the Wolves fell to 6-18 on the road.
"We like to play in the fast break, but the Grizzlies get back on the defense pretty good and that is why they are a good team," Rubio admitted. "They are a hard team to beat. They didn't let us get any easy baskets."
Minnesota shot well from the floor, making 49.3 percent of its shots, but finished only 4-of-16 from 3-point range. Twenty turnovers for 26 Memphis points didn't help the cause much either. Memphis' largest lead was 62-41 with 7:41 to play in the third quarter.
Still toiling without star forward Kevin Love because of a surgically-repaired broken hand, the Timberwolves don't have forward Andrei Kirilenko as well due to a strained right quadriceps. He has missed the last three games and is not with the team.
Love still leads the team with 18.3 ppg.
Guard J.J. Barea (foot) missed Sunday's game and is questionable Monday night.
The Timberwolves are 0-11 when scoring less than 90 points and 9-27 when allowing that many. They posted a 91-73 victory at home versus the Cavs back on Dec. 7 this season and have won three of the past four matchups.