James, Irving help Cavs pull away from Timberwolves

The win improved the Cavs record to an Eastern Conference best 38-16.

Love, who is averaging 20 points and 11.1 rebounds for the defending National Basketball Association champions, is scheduled to play for the Eastern Conference in the All-Star game on Saturday at New Orleans. Reserve small forward Shabazz Muhammad is seeing an uptick in production with LaVine out as well and scored 12 points on 5-of-7 shooting on Friday to reach double figures for the fourth time in the last five games.

Love underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee in New York City on Tuesday and is expected to miss six weeks, ESPN.com's Dave McMenamin reports. Minnesota's loss at Cleveland on February 1 was the first in a stretch of four straight setbacks but it since took two of three and is coming off a 117-89 drubbing of the Chicago Bulls on Sunday.

Wiggins got the Timberwolves back in the game Tuesday, sparking a rally after Irving hit a three pointer halfway through the third quarter to give Cleveland a 14-point lead. After being selected by the Memphis Grizzlies in the first-round of the 2009 NBA Draft out of UCLA, Love went on to spend the first six years of his professional tenure with the Minnesota Timberwolves. Cleveland is now two games ahead of the Celtics and 4½ games ahead of the Wizards, two of the hottest teams in the National Basketball Association over the last month.

Cavaliers guard Iman Shumpert hit three 3-pointers for all of his nine points. Tristan Thompson had 14 points and 11 rebounds, while Channing Frye had 21 points with 10 rebounds. The answers will shape the final two months of the regular season atop the East - and will show how seriously teams think the window for catching James has opened by Love's injury.

NOTES: Timberwolves G Zach LaVine had successful surgery Tuesday to fix a torn ACL in his left knee.

The Cavs host IN on Wednesday IN their final game before the All-Star break.

  • Julie Sanders