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Wrap-Up -- On Thursday night, the Wine & Gold went toe-to-toe with one of the NBA’s true heavyweights – slugging it out for four quarters before the Spurs delivered the late K.O.
The scrappy Cavs went up a deuce with 3:32 to play on Cedi Osman’s finger-roll, but the Spurs would proceed to close the game on a 12-4 run – punctuated by Patty Mills’ triple with 14.5 remaining – handing Cleveland the 116-110 loss at the AT&T Center.
In a game that featured 11 ties and 12 lead-changes, the Cavaliers maintained control through much of the first half – taking a nine-point edge into the halftime locker room.
But the Spurs would come out to tally 40 points in the third quarter and 32 more in the fourth – finally pulling past Cleveland in the contest’s final three minutes.
Collin Sexton once again led the Cavaliers in scoring – finishing with 24 points on 10-for-17 shooting, including 3-of-7 from long-range to go with three assists and a pair of rebounds. The Young Bull canned his first seven shots before running out of steam in the final period.
Kevin Love bounced back from a rough outing on Tuesday night against Boston to notch 18 points and eight boards, going 7-for-13 from the floor, including 2-of-4 from long-range. As good as Love was through the first three quarters, Love trailed off after intermission – netting just two points and three boards after the break.
Brandon Knight had a strong outing across from Sexton – chipping in with 14 points on 6-for-9 shooting, drilling both triples he attempted.
On a night that the Spurs retired the great Manu Ginobili’s jersey, it was only fitting that each team produced three reserves in double-figures.
For the Cavaliers, Larry Nance Jr. led the way – doubling-up for the 14th time this season with 13 points and a game-high 11 boards. Nance – who also helped hold All-Star forward LaMarcus Aldridge to 14 points on 6-for-15 shooting – also led the Wine & Gold in assists (4) and steals (2) while recording the squad’s only blocked shot.
David Nwaba turned in 18 very efficient minutes off the bench – finishing with 11 points, three boards and a steal on 5-of-6 shooting.
Jordan Clarkson finished in double-figures for the 16th straight occasion, but he struggled to get there – going just 4-of-15 from the floor to finish with 10 points, adding six rebounds, three assists and a steal in the loss.
DeMar DeRozan, in his first meeting against Cleveland as a Spur, led both squads with 25 points on 10-of-12 shooting to go with eight assists.
Marco Belinelli, Patty Mills and Rudy Gay all registered double-figures off the bench for San Antonio – and each made it count. Belinelli was 7-for-11 from the floor, Mills canned a pair of painful daggers and Gay notched 10 of his 12 points after intermission.
Sexton records double figure scoring for the 67th time this season.
Turning Point -- The Spurs late push to end the game eventually decided the final score. But it was the first few minutes out of the halftime locker room that set the table.
The Cavs went into half up by nine and made it 11 on Tristan Thompson’s floater to start the second stanza. But the Spurs would answer back immediately – with DeMar DeRozan scoring 11 quick points, keying a 21-7 run that put the Spurs back in the lead.
Brandon Knight would tie the game on Cleveland’s next possession, but the Cavaliers lost any margin for error the rest of the way.
By the Numbers – 24.5, .551, .500, .879 … Collin Sexton’s scoring average – plus shooting percentages from the floor, beyond the arc and from the free throw line – over his last 11 games, tallying at least 20 points in 10 of them.
Quotable – Coach Larry Drew, on San Antonio’s surge to start the third period …
”They made a run. They’re on their home floor and we kind of anticipated they’d make a run and we’d have to weather the storm. I thought we did. We were right there until the end. We just didn’t execute well down the stretch.”
Up Next -- Following Thursday night’s loss at the AT&T Center, the Wine & Gold’s late-season roadie rolls on – with the Cavaliers traveling to Tinseltown for a Saturday afternoon clash with the Clippers to close out the month of March. On Monday night, the Cavs head to the Valley of the Sun for a showdown with the Suns and close out the junket later in the week, with a Thursday-Friday back-to-back against the Kings and Warriors. Larry Drew’s squad returns home to close out the campaign – welcoming the Spurs on Sunday afternoon and wrapping up on Fan App Night against the Hornets.