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Wrap-Up – Other than the team that knocked off Cleveland on Monday night, nobody gives LeBron James – and the Cavaliers – more trouble than the San Antonio Spurs. Aside from the Denver Nuggets, the Spurs have the highest winning percentage against James among all NBA opponents and they’d topped the Cavs in six straight contests heading into Wednesday’s tilt.
The song remained the same for LeBron and the Cavaliers, as the Spurs held off the Wine and Gold – winning a 92-90 nailbiter at The Q. The Cavs had a chance to tie the game in the closing seconds, but Tim Duncan picked James’ pocket at center court as time expired to hand Cleveland its second straight loss.
Anderson Varejao led all scorers with 23 points, going 11-for-16 from the floor and adding 11 boards and a team-high two blocks. Kyrie Irving notched eight of his 20 points in the final quarter, going 7-for-15 overall, including 3-of-4 from long-distance. But maybe Kyrie’s best work was on the defensive end, where he held San Antonio’s Tony Parker to just eight points on 2-for-7 shooting.
LeBron finished with 15 points on 6-for-17 shooting, adding a game-high nine assists, six boards, a steal and blocked shot. Kevin Love struggled from the floor – going 4-for-12 – but he did manage to rack up his sixth double-double of the season with 10 points and 11 rebounds.
The Cavs shot 45 percent from the field as a team, but made only 13 trips to the stripe and committed 18 miscues that led to 22 Spurs’ points. The Spurs’ big men did most of the damage in Wednesday’s loss. Tim Duncan scored San Antonio’s first nine points of the night and finished with 19 points and 10 boards. Boris Diaw notched season-highs in points (19) and assists (7).
Turning Point – Wednesday’s contest – especially the second half – was nip-and-tuck throughout, with neither team leading by more than a touchdown after intermission. Overall there were seven ties and 18 lead changes. But with just under three minutes to play, Varejao tipped home a Joe Harris miss to give the Cavs a one-point lead, 86-85. On the Cavs’ next possession, they missed three straight shots but grabbed the offensive board on each. Duncan rebounded the third miss and scored on a hard bank-shot to give San Antonio a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
Kyrie’s free throws with 10.1 to play got the Wine and Gold to within one, but Manu Ginobili split a pair at the line with 7.8 remaining, giving Cleveland one last shot. But with no timeouts, LeBron was forced to improvise against the clock and a Spurs defense determined not to let him beat them.
Scene and Heard – The sports celebrities were out in force on Wednesday night at The Q – led by Cleveland Indians pitcher and current Cy Young Award Winner, Corey Kluber, who was honored at center court during the team’s first timeout. But as big as Kluber’s appearance was, it didn’t reach the level of excitement that pro wrestling icon Hulk Hogan generated sitting next to the Cavaliers bench. Several players, including Joe Harris and Kevin Love, paused to have their photo taken with the Hulkster. Browns cornerback Joe Haden had to settle for third place on Wednesday night at The Q.
By the Numbers – 5 … straight games that Kyrie Irving has topped the 20-point plateau. It’s the fifth time he’s strung together five straight 20-point games. Kyrie has also canned three or more three-pointers in five straight contests and is shooting .581 from beyond the arc during that span.
Quotable – LeBron James, on the team’s overall performance on Wednesday night …
”I think this is a game I’m happy about. I’m never happy about a loss, I hate to lose. But I’m happy about the progress we made tonight. It’s totally different than Monday. We came to play. We competed for 48 minutes and if you give yourself an opportunity to win, that’s all you can ask for.”
Up Next – The Cavaliers travel for the final time in November this Friday when they travel to D.C. to face the Wizards. They return home Saturday for the second half of the back-to-back, but it doesn’t get any easier as they welcome the Atlantic Division-leading Raptors to The Q. Next week, the Wine and Gold welcome Orlando on Monday, get a rematch with the Wizards on Wednesday and close out November with a Saturday night home matchup with the Pacers.