CLEVELAND - Michael Beasley was happy with his winning shot.
He was happier with his game-saving defensive play.
Beasley scored on a driving layup with 5.9 seconds remaining to give Minnesota a 98-97 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday night, snapping the Timberwolves’ seven-game losing streak.
Then he forced Antawn Jamison into an off-balance 10-footer that hit the rim twice before it fell off.
“It was extra sweet to do it on the defensive end,” said Beasley, who had 28 points. “I forced him into a bad shot and we got the win.”
Jamison, who led Cleveland with 24 points, thought he was fouled and said Beasley told him after the play that he had indeed fouled him.
“I’m biased,” Jamison said. “I thought there was contact. That’s how the game goes.”
Jamison gave the Cavaliers a 97-96 lead with 10.6 seconds left. After Minnesota called a timeout, Beasley, a left-handed shooter, got the ball at the top of the key, drove to his right past Jamison and banked in the winning basket.
It may have taken the entire game, but Beasley finally tuned in to coach Kurt Rambis’ advice.
“Coach had been telling me all game to go right because they opened up the right side for me,” Beasley said. “I just decided to listen.”
Former Seattle SuperSonics point guard Luke Ridnour scored 23 points to help Minnesota improve to 7-24. Forward Kevin Love added 16, including 14 in the fourth quarter, and had 18 rebounds for his NBA-leading 26th double-double.
Anthony Parker had 21 and Mo Williams added 17 for the Cavaliers.
The performance came just days after Miami Heat forward LeBron James suggested the NBA get rid of some teams so fans could see superstars such as Love concentrated on fewer teams.
Love didn’t make a field goal until scoring off an offensive rebound with 9:10 to play. Ridnour hit two 3-pointers to help Minnesota get within one at 91-90.
Love’s two free throws with 2:13 to play gave Minnesota a 94-93 lead.
“It was a slow game for me,” Love said. “I don’t know if it was Christmas or if it was the food I had yesterday. I was sucking wind out there. I was a little slow those first three quarters.”
Cleveland starting shooting guard Daniel Gibson missed the game because of the flu.