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If you’re going to snap an eight-game losing streak, why not do so in style?
After arriving in San Antonio at 3 a.m. on the second night of a back-to-back, taking on a Spurs team that hadn’t played since last Friday, the odds were stacked against the Wine and Gold. Instead, they turned in one of the best team efforts of the young season – taking the 117-109 overtime thriller on Thursday night at the AT&T Center.
Kevin Love was outstanding all night, but it was his three-pointer with 7.5 seconds to play in regulation that saved the day – tying the seesaw affair after San Antonio took a five-point lead with just over 20 seconds to play.
Once the Wine and Gold got the extra-session, momentum was clearly on their side. Jordan Clarkson opened the scoring with a layup and Cleveland never trailed again.
The Cavaliers were actually in control of the contest for most of the night – leading by a baker’s dozen in the third quarter and holding a double-digit edge after three. But San Antonio chipped away in the fourth period and extended its lead to six with 3:46 to play.
Behind Love, Clarkson and Collin Sexton, the Wine and Gold rallied back to tie the affair – and that same trio combined for 11 of Cleveland’s points in OT to get a victory in one of the league’s toughest arenas.
Love went for a season-high 30 points in the win – going 11-for-24 from the floor, including 4-of-9 from long-range to go with a game-high 17 rebounds.
Love’s 17 boards were part of Cleveland’s utter dominance on the glass – outrebounding the Spurs, 50-36, including an 11-2 edge on the offensive end. San Antonio didn’t grab a single offensive rebound through the first four quarters of regulation.
Sexton added 28 points in the win, going 10-for-19 from the floor and 7-of-8 from the stripe, adding two boards, a pair of assists and a steal.
Jordan Clarkson, playing before friends and family, followed up with 25 points off bench – going 10-for-18 from the floor, including 4-of-11 from deep, adding four boards and three assists in 30 minutes of work.
Cedi Osman finished with 15 points to round out the Cavaliers in double-figures, going 6-of-12 from the field.
Larry Nance Jr. didn’t score a single point on Thursday, but grabbed 11 big rebounds in 28 minutes off the bench. John Henson notched just two points, but his defensive stop against DeMar DeRozan in the final seconds of regulation preserved the tie and sent the game to an extra-session.
Love ties the game with just seconds remaining in regulation to send the Cavs and Spurs to an eventual Wine & Gold overtime victory.
There were several turning points in Thursday’s road win, but the closing moments of regulation were critical to the final outcome.
San Antonio took the lead back midway through the fourth quarter and kept Cleveland at bay over the next five minutes. And when Patty Mills drained a pair of free throws with 20.1 seconds to play to put the Spurs up five, 103-98, it looked like the Spurs would hold on.
But Sexton went quickly coast-to-coast on the next possession to get within three. The Cavs fouled DeMar DeRozan on the next possession, but he bricked both free throws to open the door.
From there, Love sidestepped a pair of defenders and calmly drained the 27-footer that would eventually send the game to overtime.
20.3, .500, .357 … Jordan Clarkson’s scoring average along with his shooting percentage from the floor and from beyond the arc over his last three outings.
At 14.3ppg, Clarkson is the 4th-ranked bench scorer in the Eastern Conference. Thursday’s performance was his 11th career double-digit effort against his hometown team – the fourth time topping the 20-point plateau.
Collin Sexton, on Thursday’s victory in San Antonio …
"It feels good. I felt like we played until the end tonight. It feels good to get a win. It feels good to fight back. We were up, but I think we were down five or six points with like 30 seconds to go and we fought until the end and we got a layup and Kev [Kevin Love] hit a big time three. We just know that we have got to fight until the end no matter what, just keep fighting and continue to play together. Tonight, we played together, and we got the dub."
Enjoy the best broadcast calls of the night from Cavaliers Radio Network's Tim Alcorn and 87.7 La Mega's Rafa Hernandez-Brito.
The Cavaliers current trip continues on, as they make their second and final stop in Milwaukee on Saturday night – taking on a Bucks team that hasn’t lost since November 8.
Cleveland closes out the mini-trip on Monday night north of the border, facing off against the Raptors in Toronto before heading home for the holidays – with home contests against Charlotte, Memphis and Atlanta on tap.