Cavs End 12-Game Losing Streak With Stunning Victory

By TOM WITHERS, AP Sports Writer

CLEVELAND (AP) - DeSagana Diop looked at the scoreboard and wanted in on the fun.

With Cleveland safely leading the Minnesota Timberwolves in the fourth quarter, the Cavaliers' rookie center decided it was time to get some playing time.

"The rook was saying, 'Let's blow these guys out by 20 points so I can get in,'" guard Bimbo Coles said of Diop, averaging just 1.8 points.

"I was like, 'Hey, big fella, just calm down, let's get a win.'"

The Cavs finally did, ending a 12-game losing streak -- their longest in 20 years -- with a shocking 114-81 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Tuesday night.

Wesley Person scored 27 points, and Andre Miller had 17 points and 12 assists for the Cavs.

"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, and the Cavs enjoyed every precious second.

"That's a big win. We're 1-0 right now," Cleveland coach John Lucas said. "For us, it was like (our record) being 30-14 winning tonight. We played well for two weeks, and couldn't get anything to go in."

Person went 7-for-7 while scoring 16 points in the third quarter, when the Cavs outscored Minnesota 37-18.

Bryant Stith and Trajan Langdon had 14 points apiece for Cleveland, which was again without leading scorer Lamond Murray (broken nose).

Kevin Garnett scored 14 points, but missed his last nine shots for the 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."

Minnesota's Wally Szczerbiak, named a 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, averaging 19.4 points, made no excuses for the Timberwolves' shooting woes or his 1-of-6 performance in 31 minutes.

"There's no explanation," he said.

The Cavs appeared to be on their way to another loss when Anthony Peeler converted a three-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.

The Cavs increased their lead to 38 in the fourth, giving Lucas a rare opportunity to relax and play his reserves.

Diop had three turnovers in six minutes, which included a pass that sailed 15 feet over Coles' head.

"Besides hitting that lady in the fifth row with the pass, he was OK," Lucas said.

Notes: Minnesota assistant Randy Wittman made his first visit to Gund Arena since being fired by the Cavs after last season. ... Cleveland lost 19 in a row to end the 1981-82 season.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)