Washington's Kristaps Porzingis drives to the basket in the Wizards' 102-92 NBA victory over the Memphis Grizzlies
Los Angeles (AFP) - Cleveland guard Darius Garland’s 51 points, including 27 in a dazzling fourth quarter, weren’t enough Sunday as the Cavaliers fell 129-124 to the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Garland produced the first 50-point performance of the NBA season and became the fourth Cavaliers player to hit the half-century mark along with LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Walt Wesley.
His 10 three-pointers – six in the fourth quarter – were just the start, Garland setting the arena alight with an array of agile jump shots and bullish drives to the basket.
Cavs star Donovan Mitchell was cheering from the bench as he sat out with a sore ankle, but Garland’s career night wasn’t quite enough.
D’Angelo Russell scored a season-high 30 points and handed out 12 assists, while Karl-Anthony Towns scored 29 points for the Timberwolves, who led by 24 late in the third quarter.
Two free throws from Garland pulled the Cavs within two with 8.3 seconds remaining.
But Russell responded with a free throw and Wolves center Rudy Gobert deflected the ensuing inbounds pass. Taurean Prince made two more free throws as Minnesota ended a three-game losing streak.
Russell connected on 11 of 13 shots from the floor, including four of five from beyond the arc.
Elsewhere, the Oklahoma City Thunder rolled into New York and thumped the Knicks 145-135 to the vocal dismay of the Madison Square Garden crowd.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 37 points and Josh Giddey had a triple-double of 24 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists to lead the young Thunder squad.
Australia’s Giddey, 20, joined Wilt Chamberlain as the only players to post triple-doubles in their first two games at the iconic Manhattan arena.
“We come here once a year, so you’ve got to have fun while we’re here and luckily in my time we’ve had two wins, so it’s been going good so far,” Giddey said in a post-game interview.
“It’s a fun place to play, obviously the most famous arena in the world so I have this arena circled on my calendar and can’t wait to come back next year.”
Lu Dort also scored 24 points for Oklahoma City, who connected on 62.5% of their shots from the field. That included making 17 of 31 from three-point range.
The Knicks out-scored the Thunder 48-36 in the first quarter, setting a franchise record for points in the first period.
But Oklahoma City buckled down defensively in the second, holding the Knicks to 25 and scoring 43 to lead by six at the break.
They never trailed and led by as many as 19 in the second half.
In Washington, Kristaps Porzingis scored 25 points and Deni Avdija chipped in 21 to lead the Wizards to a 102-92 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies.
Washington notched a fourth straight victory despite the continued absence of Bradley Beal. The Grizzlies were short-handed as well, with Ja Morant sidelined by a sore left ankle and Desmond Bane out with a troublesome toe.