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Jon Krawczynski / AP Sports Writer, Published December 07 2012

Love's 36 and 13 lift Wolves over Cavs, 91-73

MINNEAPOLIS – Kevin Love’s shooting stroke returned, and Andrei Kirilenko also was back for the Minnesota Timberwolves.

The timing couldn’t have been worse for the reeling Cleveland Cavaliers.

Love had 36 points and 13 rebounds and Kirilenko delivered another solid all-around performance in the Timberwolves’ 91-73 victory over the Cavaliers on Friday night.

Love missed most of the first month of the season with a broken right hand, and he’s been struggling to regain his shooting touch since returning nine games ago. The release looked much more fluid against the Cavs, and the trajectory was better as well. He made 10 of 19 shots and 14 of 18 free throws and is cautiously optimistic that it’s all coming back to him now.

“Hopefully it’s not fool’s gold,” Love said. “It’s a step in the right direction. I’ve been putting in work, but it’s just one game.”

Kirilenko had eight points, seven rebounds, six assists, four steals and three blocks after missing four games with back spasms and Luke Ridnour added 12 points, seven assists and five rebounds for the Timberwolves, who improved to 9-9 in their best start since the 2006-07 season.

Alonzo Gee scored 16 points and Anderson Varejao grabbed 14 rebounds for the Cavaliers, who have lost four in a row and eight of their last nine while star guard Kyrie Irving has been out with a broken left index finger.

The Cavs turned the ball over 20 times – which led to 32 Minnesota points – shot 34.5 percent and attempted just nine free throws to Minnesota’s 35.

“I’m trying to figure out a way to say this without getting fined,” coach Byron Scott said of the officiating. “It was that bad. It really was. It was that bad. I mean I understand we’re playing in Minnesota, but 35-9, we went to the basket just as much as they did. I think we had 38 attempts in the paint to their 34, we get nine free throws, I think that speaks for itself.”

It wasn’t a pretty game offensively for either team, aside from Love’s shooting. He entered the night hitting just 19.6 percent of his 3s and 36 percent overall while still trying to get the feeling in his hand back to normal.

“I know I haven’t been the 25 (points) and 10 (rebounds) guy that I usually am. ... I haven’t been quite putting up the numbers and helping the team as much as I can,” Love said at the shootaround on Friday morning.

While Love was terrific in the matchup of two of the game’s best rebounders, Varejao managed just four points on 2-for-10 shooting.

Cleveland 16 21 20 16–73

Minnesota 25 19 22 25–91

CLEVELAND (73): Gee 7-12 0-0 16, Thompson 3-7 0-0 6, Varejao 2-10 0-0 4, Pargo 2-9 1-2 5, Gibson 2-7 0-0 5, Zeller 2-6 1-1 5, Sloan 4-11 1-2 10, Miles 5-12 1-2 13, Jones 1-3 0-0 2, Casspi 2-6 0-0 5, Samuels 0-2 2-2 2, Walton 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 30-87 6-9 73.

MINNESOTA (91): Kirilenko 4-5 0-0 8, Love 10-19 14-18 36, Pekovic 0-3 4-4 4, Ridnour 6-12 0-0 12, Lee 1-5 4-6 6, Stiemsma 0-3 0-0 0, Shved 3-8 1-3 7, Howard 1-4 0-0 2, Barea 3-5 2-2 10, Cunningham 2-6 2-2 6. Totals 30-70 27-35 91.

3-Point Goals: Cleveland 7-24 (Miles 2-5, Gee 2-6, Sloan 1-2, Casspi 1-3, Gibson 1-4, Walton 0-2, Pargo 0-2), Minnesota 4-19 (Barea 2-3, Love 2-5, Ridnour 0-1, Kirilenko 0-1, Howard 0-2, Lee 0-3, Shved 0-4). Rebounds: Cleveland 49 (Varejao 14), Minnesota 59 (Love 13). Assists: Cleveland 15 (Gibson 4), Minnesota 18 (Ridnour 7). Total Fouls: Cleveland 24, Minnesota 17. A: 16,623 (19,356).