Spurs Host Cavs in Home Opener
Posted Nov 3 2006 2:38PM
NBA.com Daily Confidential
Before LeBron James and the rest of the Cleveland Cavaliers get caught up in the hype of being the trendy pick to win the NBA title, they'll want to end their road struggles against a three-time champion.
The Cavaliers look to snap a 16-game losing streak in San Antonio when they take the floor at the AT&T Center in the Spurs' home opener on Friday night.
Cleveland (1-0) hasn't started a season with consecutive wins since going 4-0 to start the 2000-01 season, and James was not yet 4 years old when the Cavaliers last beat the Spurs on the road on Dec. 8, 1988.
San Antonio, meanwhile, is looking to win its 10th straight home opener which would tie Phoenix (1973-82) and Minnesota (1995-2004) for the third-longest streak in NBA history.
In its season-opener on Wednesday, Cleveland beat Washington 97-94 in a playoff series rematch. The Cavaliers defeated the Wizards in six games - winning three games by one point, including Games 5 and 6 in overtime.
``It was a physical game but we knew that it would be coming in,'' said James, who finished with 26 points, 10 rebounds and five assists in the opener. ``They want to beat us and we want to beat them. It's become a big rivalry.''
James had a stellar game his last time out against the Spurs, scoring 44 points on 19-of-33 shooting in a 101-87 victory on Feb. 13. It was one of 10 games last season in which James scored at least 41 points.
He's not fared as well in three career games at San Antonio, averaging 20.3 points - more than 6 points below his career average. Cleveland also has lost by an average of 17.6 points in those contests.
A healthy Larry Hughescould be what the Cavaliers need to come out of the Eastern Conference. Hughes, who underwent surgery twice to repair a badly broken finger and was limited to 36 games last season, led all scorers with 27 points in the season-opening win, which came after a sloppy start.
The Cavaliers committed 12 first-half turnovers, and shot just 50.0 percent (15-of-30) from the free-throw line for the game.
San Antonio started its season on Thursday with a win over the team that ended their hopes of another championship title. Tony Parker shook off a sprained ankle had 19 points to lead six Spurs in double figures as they defeated Dallas 97-91 in a Western Conference semifinals rematch.
``We wanted to win really bad. But it's not the same as the playoffs last season,'' said Manu Ginobili, who scored 16 points. ``The only thing that will make us forget is to have a great season and play them again.''
Tim Duncan scored only 13 points, but grabbed 10 rebounds including one that led to a key putback with 50.4 second to play.
``Neither team can claim to have played a great game, but we toughed it out.'' Duncan said. The two-time MVP has averaged 25.0 points on 67.1 percent shooting in his last five home games against Cleveland.
Parker had a season-low 4 points on 2-of-7 shooting in a 101-87 loss at Cleveland on Feb. 13. In his last three home games against the Cavs, though, he's averaged 16.7 points on 57.1 percent shooting.
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