Cavs Can't Close in San Antonio
Wrap-Up – For the second time this season, the Cavaliers took the heavyweight Spurs right to the brink. But for the second time, the Spurs were a little too much to handle in the closing moments.
Playing their third straight game without the services of All-Star guard, Kyrie Irving, the Wine and Gold went toe-to-toe with the 50-win Spurs in a game that featured 11 ties and 13 lead changes. But San Antonio took the lead on a Kawhi Leonard three-pointer with 4:39 to play and never looked back – handing the Cavaliers the 119-113 loss on Saturday night at the AT&T Center.
Both teams shot over 50 percent from the floor but, led by Tim Duncan, the Spurs handled the Wine and Gold on the boards (43-29) and in the paint (62-46). The Spurs’ future Hall of Famer finished with 30 points on 13-for-19 shooting, adding 12 boards, four assists and a game-high five blocks.
The Cavaliers were paced by Wayne Ellington, who notched 13 of his 21 points in the first half. Marreese Speights added another 19 points off Byron Scott’s bench, going 7-for-13 from the floor to go with seven boards and all four of the Wine and Gold’s blocked shots. Shaun Livingston finished with 16 points on 8-of-13 shooting and a team-high five assists. Dion Waiters and Alonzo Gee added 15 points apiece.
Turning Point – Saturday’s contest was back-and-forth for four quarters. San Antonio looked like it would pull away midway through the third, opening up a nine-point edge. But Cleveland went on a 15-6 run to knot the affair at 88-apiece. The game stayed close until Leonard’s three-pointer late in the fourth gave the Spurs all the breathing space they’d need to pull away.
Game Ball – Wayne Ellington – The veteran guard from North Carolina came out of the gate strong after missing Friday’s game with a left ankle sprain, canning five of his first six shots. Ellington finished 8-for-13 on the night, including 4-of-7 from long-distance. He added two boards and a pair of assists and was part of a Cavaliers second unit that combined for 53 points.
By the Numbers – 12.5 … turnovers per game the Cavaliers have averaged since January 14 – tops in the Eastern Conference and second in the NBA during that stretch. Cleveland committed just 11 miscues on Saturday in San Antonio.
Quotable – Coach Byron Scott, on the Big Fundamental’s big performance on Saturday …
”Tim (Duncan), I think, took it a little personally the first game where he didn’t play so well and Tristan did a pretty good job. And guys like Tim that have been in this league, that are Hall of Fame-type guys, they remember that. So I’m pretty sure he made a point tonight to come out here and play well. And he did.”
Up Next – The Cavaliers return home to face a pair of Eastern Conference heavyweights – welcoming the Pacers to The Q on Monday and the World Champion Heat on Wednesday. After that, they head back to Texas where they’ll take on the Rockets on Friday night in Houston.