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March Mania

Timberwolves blow big lead, storm back to top Cavs

Minnesota Timberwolves guard Shabazz Napier (13) shoots over the defense of Cleveland Cavaliers forward Cedi Osman (16) during the first half at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse Sunday, Jan. 5. Ken Blaze / USA TODAY Sports

CLEVELAND -- Gorgui Dieng collected 22 points and 13 rebounds as the visiting Minnesota Timberwolves overcame squandering a 25-point lead to record a 118-103 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday, Jan. 5.

Shabazz Napier finished with 21 points, like Dieng hitting 8 of 10 shots from the floor.

Andrew Wiggins returned from a four-game absence due to illness to match Robert Covington with 15 points for the Timberwolves, who have won four of six on the heels of an 11-game losing streak.

Dante Exum scored 24 of his career-high 28 points in the second half for the Cavaliers, who dropped their fourth straight game.

Cleveland rookie Kevin Porter Jr. sustained a left knee injury after Covington appeared to step on his foot early in the third quarter. Porter needed assistance to leave the court and finished with six points and five rebounds in 19 minutes.

Cavaliers' disgruntled forward Kevin Love was held out of Sunday's game against his former team for rest purposes, one day after his verbal altercation with general manager Koby Altman and his on-court issues at the end of the first half during the 121-106 loss to Oklahoma City. Cavaliers coach John Beilein told reporters prior to the game that Love's day off was pre-planned and had nothing to do with his actions on Saturday.

Naz Reid's layup gave Minnesota a 25-point lead at 92-67 with 3:07 remaining into the third quarter before Cleveland answered with a 30-4 run over a 6 1/2-minute stretch to secure a one-point advantage.

Exum drained a pair of 3-pointers in the third to start the uprising before sinking back-to-back shots from beyond the arc to give the Cavaliers a 97-96 lead with 8:29 left to play.

Undaunted, Minnesota responded as Wiggins sank a 3-pointer and a short jumper before Dieng added a pair of shots from beyond the arc the Timberwolves claimed a 107-97 lead with 3:37 to play.

Minnesota broke open a close game after the first quarter by erupting for 42 points in the second to secure a 66-48 lead at halftime. The Timberwolves, who shot 51.0 percent from the field (26 of 51) in the first half, capped the surge by draining four consecutive 3-pointers -- including two by Covington.