Notebook: Spurs 96, Cavaliers 95



Posted Feb 13, 2013 11:42 PM

Brian Dulik, for NBA.com

THE FACTS: Small forward Kawhi Leonard nailed a 3-pointer from the right corner with 2.9 seconds left, giving the San Antonio Spurs a 96-95 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers. Point guard Tony Parker collected a game-high 24 points and seven assists for San Antonio, while Leonard and power forward Tim Duncan each scored 13 points. Shooting guard Manu Ginobili added five points and six assists for the Spurs, who own the best record in the NBA at 42-12. Rookie shooting guard Dion Waiters led Cleveland with 20 points, while rookie center Tyler Zeller had 16 points and a team-high nine rebounds.

QUOTABLE: "The one thing we didn't want to give up at the end of the game was a 3-pointer. That's the one thing we talked about in the huddle. It was just a loss of focus at that time of the game, which is unfortunate."
-- Cavaliers coach Byron Scott

THE STAT: San Antonio's "Big Three" played in the same game for the first time since Jan. 13. The Spurs went 12-1 without Duncan (left knee), Parker (right knee), and Ginobili (left hamstring) in the lineup together. They combined for 42 points, 13 rebounds and 16 assists against the Cavaliers. "My rhythm wasn't there tonight, but just to be running up and down the court -- instead of wearing a suit on the bench -- was awesome," said Duncan, who also grabbed six boards and blocked five shots. "And, obviously, it's always great to be out there with Tony and Manu."

TURNING POINT: After the Cavaliers took a 93-90 lead on two free throws by point guard Kyrie Irving with 1:48 left, Spurs shooting guard Gary Neal answered with a 3-pointer. Waiters put Cleveland back in front 95-93 by sinking a step-back jumper with 9.9 ticks remaining, but that left too much time for Parker to work his magic. The French floor general drove down the lane, then passed to a wide open Leonard, who made the game-winning 3-pointer. "We practiced that play 1,000 times, so I knew we'd be able to execute it," San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said.

QUOTABLE II: "I thought I could have made the layup, but I saw Kawhi open. I wasn't only playing for the win, but I'd been setting up my teammates all night, so I wanted to make the right play at the end."
-- Tony Parker

HOT: San Antonio holds a two-game lead over Oklahoma City in the race for the best record in the NBA. The Spurs also lead Memphis by 7 1/2 games in the Southwest Division standings. ... Parker was a perfect 8-for-8 from the foul line, all coming in the third quarter. ... Leonard had a game-high 10 rebounds and four blocks. ... San Antonio center DeJuan Blair shot 6-for-7 from the field, scored 12 points, and grabbed five rebounds in 18 minutes off the bench. ... Cavaliers shooting guard C.J. Miles scored a team-high seven points in the final period. ... Zeller made seven field goals, which was six more than he had in his previous three games combined.

NOT: The Cavaliers are 16-37, giving them two fewer wins than they had all of last season. ... Irving scored a season-low six points on 2-for-15 shooting. The first-time NBA All-Star, who twisted his left ankle Monday against Minnesota, also slipped on Cleveland's final possession -- prompting him to fling a wild 20-footer at the buzzer. ... The 7-foot Zeller lost a jump ball to Spurs point guard Nando DeColo, who stands 6-foot-5. ... San Antonio didn't make a free throw in the first 23:58. ... Spurs shooting guard Danny Green missed all five of his 3-pointers and was 1-for-8 from the floor. ... San Antonio center Tiago Splitter was outscored 16-6 by Zeller.

QUOTABLE III: "Everybody did their job tonight and we competed for the whole 48 minutes. We just had a defensive letdown and that led to Kawhi Leonard's 3-pointer, but that's what happens in this game."
-- Kyrie Irving

GOOD MOVE: Popovich allowed Ginobili to play 10 minutes in the first half, but left him on the bench for the remainder of the game for precautionary reasons. The flashy Argentine was not happy about his limited court time, but admitted his coach made the right long-term decision for the Spurs. "In Pop's head, he thought I came back too early the last time I hurt my hamstring," Ginobili said. "I feel good, and I tried to convince him to put me back in, but it is what it is."

BAD MOVE: Waiters got lost defensively on San Antonio's final possession, leaving Leonard alone in the corner for his game-winning basket. To his credit, the fourth overall pick in the NBA Draft accepted responsibility for the loss and politely answered questions from reporters for several minutes. "I blame myself because I helped too far [on Parker] when I came over," Waiters said. "It's terrible. We played so hard tonight. We just came up short and it really hurts."

NOTABLE: The Spurs are 4-1 on their annual nine-game, 19-day Rodeo Road Trip. They do not return home to AT&T Center until Feb. 27 against Phoenix ... San Antonio small forward Stephen Jackson missed his second straight game for personal reasons. ... The Cavaliers are 3-3 on their seven-game homestand, which concludes on Feb. 20. ... Cleveland made its only appearance in the NBA Finals in 2007, when it was swept in four games by the Spurs. ... The Cavaliers are 56-145 since superstar LeBron James departed the franchise in July 2010.

UP NEXT: For the Spurs, Tuesday @ Sacramento, Feb. 21 @ L.A. Clippers, Feb. 22 @ Golden State. For the Cavaliers, Feb. 20 vs. New Orleans, Feb. 23 @ Orlando, Feb. 24 @ Miami.