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Wrap-Up -- Over the course of a long NBA season (one that’s almost reached its completion for Cleveland) there are such things as “schedule losses” – defeats that can be directly attributed to a cruel set of circumstances.
Taking nothing away from the Spurs – locked in for yet another postseason run – the Cavaliers simply didn’t have enough in the tank for Sunday afternoon’s contest, having landed in Cleveland at 7 a.m. the previous morning on the heels of a 10-day road trip.
The result was almost inevitable, with the Spurs using a big run right before half to give themselves plenty of breathing room to hold off the Wine & Gold late – taking the 112-90 decision in the season’s penultimate contest at The Q.
The game was knotted at 24-apiece after one quarter and the Cavaliers actually grabbed the lead early in the second. But San Antonio closed the first half on an 11-1 run and sealed the deal with a 33-point fourth quarter, handing the Wine & Gold their ninth straight loss.
The Cavaliers were celebrating the career of Channing Frye – one of the veterans instrumental in the 2016 Championship run as well as a fan and team favorite – giving the 13-year man the start at center.
To the delight of Sunday’s sold-out arena, Frye opened the scoring with a triple from the top of the arc. On the afternoon, the affable big man finished with five points, four boards and an assist in 16 minutes of action – checking out in the fourth period and being mobbed by his teammates when he came to the bench.
Cleveland’s starting backcourt of Collin Sexton and Brandon Knight led the squad with 16 points each.
Sexton and Knight both tally 16 points in Sunday's loss to the Spurs.
Sexton, playing in Game 81 – the only Cavalier to suit up for every contest this season – went 6-of-15 from the floor for 16 points, including 2-of-7 from beyond the arc to go with four assists and a steal.
Knight was 5-of-12 from the floor for 16 points as well, and 5-of-7 from the stripe, adding three steals and the team’s only blocked shot.
Larry Nance Jr. didn’t put up monster numbers, but still played a rock-solid floor game – doubling-up in his third straight contest and grabbing double-digit boards in his sixth straight – finishing with 11 points while leading Cleveland in rebounding (10), assists (five) and steals (four).
Cedi Osman was the fourth Cavalier starter in double-figures, adding 12 points, four boards and a pair of steals – going 4-of-10 from the floor and 3-of-4 from the line.
The Wine & Gold committed just seven turnovers in the trip finale on Friday night in Oakland, but had 22 miscues on Sunday afternoon. The Spurs beat Cleveland up on the boards (49-34), had 11 more assists and had the game’s top scorer and rebounder, LaMarcus Aldridge, who doubled-up with 18 and 13 in the win.
Turning Point -- The road-weary Cavaliers still managed to come out swinging on Sunday afternoon, but it didn’t take much for things to come unraveled late in the first half.
After falling behind by nine, Cedi Osman canned a triple to stop the bleeding. But that’s as good as it would get for the Wine & Gold.
DeMar DeRozan scored two quick buckets followed by a Bryn Forbes three-pointer. Osman briefly halted San Antonio’s surge – splitting a pair of free throws – but Rudy Gay would score twice in the final 48 seconds of the half – sending the Spurs to the locker room with a 16-point edge.
By the Numbers – 26, 26, 36, 24 … games this season, respectively, that Larry Nance Jr. has led the team in rebounding, assists, steals and blocks.
Quotable – Kevin Love, on his longtime teammate and friend, Channing Frye …
"Everybody involved was hoping this will be a game that he really remembers and the fans will remember too. He just encompasses all the right things – the spirit of the game, our culture, and just everything that Channing is about on and off the floor. He helped influence the Cavs in a very big way, especially when he first got to the team in 2016. We love him. And this was about him."
Up Next -- After falling to the Spurs on Sunday afternoon, the Wine & Gold will wrap up the season on Tuesday, welcoming Kemba Walker and the Hornets to town on Fan Appreciation Night. Following that, it’s on to the Lottery, Draft, Summer League and the free agency period over the summer.