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Cavaliers end 12-game skid in shocking fashion

1/30/2002

CLEVELAND (AP) -- The most shocking thing about Cleveland's
12-game losing streak was the way the Cavaliers ended it.

Wesley Person scored 27 points, Andre Miller had 17 and 12
assists and the Cavs snapped their longest losing skid in 20 years
with a surprising 114-81 rout Tuesday night over the Minnesota
Timberwolves.

"No one ever gave us a chance against Minnesota," Person said.
"They said, 'Oh, another L'. It's a relief."

Cleveland hadn't won since Jan. 2, and the Cavs didn't figure to
stop their streak against the Timberwolves, who came in with the
NBA's third-best record.

But everything finally went Cleveland's way.

The Cavs made 12 of 13 field-goal attempts and outscored the
Timberwolves 45-4 over a 9:37 stretch bridging the second and third
quarters.

It was Cleveland's most lopsided win since beating Charlotte by
33 on Jan. 25, 1997.

The Cavs were so far ahead, and having so much fun in the fourth
quarter, that 7-foot rookie center DeSagana Diop even wanted a
piece of the Timberwolves.

"The rook was saying, 'Let's blow these guys out by 20 so I can
get in'," guard Bimbo Coles said of Diop, averaging just 1.8
points per game. "I was like, 'Hey, big fella, just calm down,
let's get a win.' "

Person made sure they did, going 7-for-7 while scoring 16 points
in the third quarter when the Cavs outscored Minnesota 37-18 and
took control.

Bryant Stith and Trajan Langdon had 14 points apiece for the
Cavs, who were again without leading scorer Lamond Murray (broken
nose) but didn't need him anyway.

Kevin Garnett scored 14 points but missed his last nine shots
for the cold-shooting Timberwolves, who went 1-for-16 from the
floor during the Cavs' unexpected scoring binge.

Garnett was 7-of-23 and the Timberwolves shot just 34 percent
from the field.

"That was ugly, ugly, ugly," Minnesota guard Terrell Brandon
said. "We were in complete control and then nothing went right for
us. We know Cleveland has some shooters. Trouble was, we let them
shoot."

Minnesota's Wally Szczerbiak, named an Western Conference
All-Star reserve on Tuesday, had just three points and didn't score
until there was just 4:57 left in the fourth.

Szczerbiak was averaging 19.4 points per game.

"When you're an All-Star, that's the target on your back,"
said Minnesota coach Flip Saunders. "You have to be tough and stay
on top of the mountain."

The Cavs appeared to be on their way to another loss when
Anthony Peeler converted a 3-point play to put Minnesota up 39-30
with 3:37 left in the first half.

But Miller fed Person and Stith for consecutive 3s, Stith hit
another long jumper and the Cavs ran off 14 straight points in an
18-1 spurt to take a 48-40 halftime lead.

Cleveland scored the first eight points after halftime, and with
Person doing most of the damage from long range, the Cavs opened
the period with a 27-3 burst.

Stith's two free throws gave Cleveland a 75-43 lead with 6:00
left in the third quarter, and coach John Lucas got a rare
opportunity to relax and even played some of his reserves during
extended garbage time in the fourth.

"We're 1-0 right now," Lucas said. "For us it was like being
30-14 winning tonight. We played well for two weeks and couldn't
get anything to go in."

Game notes
Minnesota assistant Randy Wittman made his first visit to
Gund Arena since being fired by the Cavs after last season. He has
no regrets about his two years in Cleveland. "I wouldn't change a
thing," said Wittman, who holds no animosity. "The situation was
a good one for me. It just didn't work out. I wish I was still
here. I don't feel like I was singled out." ... Cleveland lost 19
in a row to end the 1981-82 season. ... Cavs F Tyrone Hill, who
hasn't played yet this season because of back spasms, got a scare
during Monday's practice following a collision with C Michael
Doleac. Hill said he plans to make his debut after the All-Star
break. ... Lucas was disappointed that Miller, the league's leader
in assists, wasn't named an All-Star reserve. "I feel like I've
let him down," said Lucas, who called seven other Eastern
Conference coaches to lobby for votes for Miller. "He's done
everything I've asked of him."