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Darius Garland came out on an absolute mission on Monday night – and his squad followed suit.
Garland scored the Cavaliers first nine points and didn’t let up until J.B. Bickerstaff pulled him with five minutes to go in the fourth quarter and his team up 32 points – en route to Cleveland’s 125-101 thrashing of the Spurs on Monday night at AT&T Center.
Over the years, opponents would tremble at the thought of facing the San Antonio defense, but Garland has feasted on the Spurs this year – setting his career-high against them 17 days ago at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse and eclipsing it on Monday.
In 30 action-packed minutes of work, Garland led both squads with 37 points, going 14-for-22 from the floor, including 5-of-10 from deep and 4-of-4 from the stripe. The smooth sophomore from Vanderbilt also paced both teams with seven assists, adding a pair of steals and a block in the win.
The Cavaliers came into the contest having played five of their last six on the road; the Spurs were playing the final game of a nine-game homestand. Cleveland had dropped five straight; the Spurs, their previous two and seven of their previous nine.
Something had to give.
Turned out, it was the Spurs – who were a step behind the Wine & Gold for most of the night. The Cavs rallied from behind to tie the game in the first quarter and never looked back from there, taking an 11-point edge into the locker room and exploding for 43 points in the third quarter.
Collin Sexton topped the 20-point plateau for the fifth consecutive game, but it went almost under the radar – finishing with 22 points, going 7-for-17 from the floor and 7-of-8 from the stripe, adding three boards and five assists.
J.B. Bickerstaff also got excellent production from his bench – with Isaiah Hartenstein doubling-up with 16 points and 12 boards, going 7-of-8 from the floor, adding three assists and a block in 27 minutes of work.
Taurean Prince was also very effective, chipping in with 14 points, going 3-of-9 from the floor and 6-of-8 from the stripe, adding seven boards, two assists, two blocks and a steal.
Rookie Isaac Okoro had his second consecutive strong performance – netting 11 points on an efficient 4-of-6 shooting, drilling all three three-point attempts on the night to go with three boards and an assist.
Okoro helped keep San Antonio’s leading scorer, DeMar DeRozan, in check. DeRozan led the Spurs with 20 points, but did most of his work from the stripe, going 12-for-13. No other Spurs player finished with more than 13 points for Gregg Popovich’s slumping squad.
Miss any of the action? Find all the highlights and photos in the Game Tracker.
Isaac Okoro rises up and throws down a huge one-handed slam all over this Spurs defender for some early highlights in San Antonio.
The Cavaliers blew the affair open in the third quarter, scoring 43 points and allowing the Spurs to get to within single-digits just once – DeMar DeRozan’s bucket to open San Antonio’s scoring in the second half.
But Cleveland showed it was ready for a fight in the first quarter.
San Antonio jumped out to an early lead and were up eight midway through the opening period, but the Cavs went on a 15-7 run near the end of the first and took control in the second – running their lead to as much as 13 before intermission.
In the second half, the Spurs never made a serious push, with Cleveland earning its biggest road win since a 28-point blowout of the Pistons in November of 2017.
By the Numbers - 33.0, .579, .500, 1.000 … Darius Garland’s scoring average – along with his shooting percentages from the floor (22-of-38), from long-range (7-for-14) and from the stripe (15-of-15) – in two games against the Spurs this year.
He’s also totaled 15 assists – leading both teams in both games.
"I actually said something at shootaround earlier this morning. I could tell it was gonna be a good day. Everybody was locked in – no horseplay, no laughing around. Everybody was locked in and I told (assistant coach) J.J. (Outlaw): ‘It’s gonna be a good day for everybody.’ And it showed."
Enjoy the best broadcast call of the night from Cavaliers Radio Network's Mike Snyder.
With their season series with San Antonio in the books, the Wine & Gold complete their wild road stretch on Thursday night, traveling to Oklahoma City to take on Theo Maledon and the Thunder.
From there, the Cavaliers come home for a weekend back-to-back – looking to make it two straight at home against the Raptors on Saturday night followed by a visit from Zion Williamson and Pelicans on Sunday.
After the home back-to-back, the Cavs again play three of the next four on the road – beginning next Wednesday in Charlotte.