MINNEAPOLIS — Well, another night with my sweet bae(sketball) came and went.
Bae: A person's boyfriend or girlfriend. Short for baby and an acronym for “before anyone else.”
Example sentence: "I’m taking bae to see that new Amy Adams movie tonight at the AMC in Maple Grove."
It’s become a term of endearment that, like many words, has taken on a broader meaning through time. Now the word is being used to describe something good or cool because people are lazy and internet slang is changing the way we speak more than ever before.
I guess my point is that basketball is my bae. When family members, friends, or co-workers ask about my relationship status, I like to say I’m married to the game. But Eric in Madison might decide to fire me if I don’t figure out how to get back on track here.
Takes deep breathe and slowly exhales.
Tonight brought one of the more entertaining games of the year, as the Wolves and Cavaliers took the court at Target Center to end a six-game homestand in the past 12 days. That’s a lot of dates with bae(sketball) in 12 days.
Andrew Wiggins delivered a bouquet of roses on Valentine’s Day to the team that drafted him first overall in 2014—and traded him two months later in a deal for Kevin Love.
“Cavs Wiggins” has become a term thrown around in the #internetbloodsport that Zach Lowe referenced in one of his previous columns, and the Maple Murker always comes to play against Cleveland (I believe Zach Harper coined this nickname).
Wiggins didn’t disappoint again, finishing with 41 points (16-29, 4-8, 5-6), three rebounds, two assists, and one steal in 41 minutes. This was his third career 40+ point effort, all this season. He passed Isaiah Rider (4315) for eighth on the franchise’s all-time scoring list.
Wiggins’ 22-foot buzzer beating jumper tied the game at 93 heading to the fourth, filling the arena with hope that the Wolves could send Cleveland home in a bad mood. He shared a moment with Vikings stud defensive end Everson Griffen, who was sitting in the first row underneath the far basket (from the Wolves’ bench and media row).
While Wiggins did his best to carry the offense, the defensive effort by him and the Wolves simply wasn’t good enough to beat the defending champions. They couldn’t carry the momentum into the fourth. Cleveland finished with 116 points on 51.2 percent shooting to win by eight points (beating Minnesota 23-15 in the fourth).
LeBron had 25 points, 14 assists, and eight rebounds, reminding me along the way how enjoyable it is to watch him; seeing LeBron play in front of another excellent home crowd was a real treat. The attendance was listed at 17,738, the second straight game the atmosphere was rocking. Kyrie Irving added 25 points and seven assists, though Ricky Rubio did a really nice job defending him. Irving took 27 shots and three free throws to get to 25 points.
“This was a good test for us,” Tom Thibodeau said afterwards. “To beat a good team, I thought the game we played in Cleveland, we played a good half. Tonight I thought we played good for three quarters, but to beat this team, you’ve got to play all four quarters.”
The Wolves’ offense went cold in the fourth and Cleveland executed better in crunch time when the game was up for grabs. Now the team will head to Denver to play their last game before the All-Star break tomorrow night.
Wiggins on the loss:
“We did a lot of good things, but we didn’t finish the game off like we should have. We scored a lot of points and only scored 15 in the fourth. Just got to finish off stronger.”
On guarding Cleveland:
“They’re a big challenge, especially when LeBron has the ball and everyone is spread out. The whole team’s filled with shooters. They’re going to spread you out.”
On playing the team that drafted him:
“It’s always competitive playing them. I feel like it brings out the best in everybody.”
Ricky Rubio on the loss:
“They’re a great team. We played really good for most parts of the game. I think we were down three with two minutes left. We need to learn how to close out games. They’re one of the best teams in the league and we’ve got to believe.”
On the fourth quarter:
“Both teams played good tonight and both made runs. We were right there but we just couldn’t go ahead in the fourth quarter. It’s something that’s tough to play. They’re one of the best teams in the league.”
On Wiggins’ night:
“He took over for part of the game and he’s capable of doing that. He really is a great player and we need more of that. I know it’s hard to ask, but he’s capable of it.”
Thibs on the difference in the game:
“They’re experienced. They’re not going to beat themselves, and so you’ve got to play tough. I thought the rebounding hurt us. The few offensive rebounds that we got, we’re trying to finesse it back in and you can’t do that. You’ve got to play strong with the ball.I thought they got loose for threes, which they’re going to put that type of pressure on you, but the onus is on you to close out, stick stance, and have the hand high. When we did that, we challenged. When we didn’t, they got good looks.”
Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue on the decision to start Channing Frye:
“He was good. They have basically two fives out there so he’s going to be popping back, they’re going to be helping a lot. He had a lot of shots I know he wishes he could get back. Having 10 rebounds is big for us, you know, making four threes.”
On Derrick Williams:
“He was great. I mean, he’s a guy you can put in at one through four, you know, he guarded Rubio, he guarded Wiggins, he guarded Dieng a little bit, so just his defensive versatility, his athleticism running the floor and also being able to catch the ball in direct line drive and be able to get to the free throw line, so he’s been a good addition for us.”
On guarding Andrew Wiggins:
“I think he got tired. He always kills us for some reason, you know when you play against the team that drafted you and trades you away for another great player, when he plays the Cavs he’s up for the game and he plays well every single time.”
- Lance Stephenson, who is playing on a 10-day contract, appeared to severely sprain his left ankle. He was helped off the floor after laying in pain for a few minutes and headed straight to the locker room. His time with the Wolves may be coming to close. For a guy battling to revive his career, this was a tough moment to witness.
- Channing Frye did quite well in place of the injured Kevin Love (out six weeks after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his left knee). Frye has always been one of the better stretch bigs in the league and he well be counted on heavily over the rest of the season in Cleveland. He finished with 21 points (7-15) and 10 rebounds.
- Karl-Anthony Towns scored 26 points on 11-19 shooting while adding eight rebounds and four assists. As written previously, KAT still needs to find a way to control the paint and be the anchor defensively for the Wolves to take the next step. His rebounding has dipped over the past five games, which is something Thibs often talks about; they have to win the rebounding battle and keep the opposition off the glass. Tristan Thompson hurt them during their last meeting and six of his 11 boards were of the offensive variety tonight. Cleveland had 13 second chance points, compared to Minnesota’s six.
- Rubio finished with five points, eight rebounds, two steals, and 16 assists. This was his fourth game of the season with 15+ dimes. It was a classic Rubio performance. He we awesome in every way outside of scoring but his 2-8 shooting really held him back from dominating the game. Cleveland was crunching down into the paint because of it.
- Gorgui Dieng added 12 points and 10 rebounds. G is consistent. Not breaking any news here, but the Wolves need more consistent players outside of the starters.