Streaking Spurs stop Cavaliers
SAN ANTONIO — The Cleveland Cavaliers gave San Antonio another tense test at home before the Spurs rose up on defense for what they deemed their biggest win of the season.
Tony Parker had 24 points and San Antonio used a furious start to the fourth quarter to beat Cleveland 99-95 on Thursday night, remaining undefeated at home and avenging their previous loss in their own arena.
"Coming into this building, they're never going to make many mistakes," said Cavaliers star LeBron James, who had 22 points. "(Spurs coach Gregg Popovich) definitely puts those guys in the right position every single possession to be successful for their team."
San Antonio (35-6) extended its home winning streak to 23 games to begin the season. The Spurs have won 32 straight at home dating to 2015 and became the first team in NBA history with a 10-game winning streak in six consecutive seasons.
The team's last loss in San Antonio came against the Cavaliers on March 12 last year when Kyrie Irving scored an NBA season-high and career-high 57 points in a 128-125 overtime victory.
Irving was limited to 16 points on 6-for-16 shooting this time, but the game was just as intense.
Instead of folding on defense in the fourth period as they did in their previous home loss to Cleveland, San Antonio rallied in the final quarter Thursday.
"One of the best opponents we can play against. It gave us so many mismatches. They play different than most other teams," Spurs guard Manu Ginobili said. "Of course, when you have a guy like LeBron, the whole team plays different. Kawhi (Leonard) did a very good job of making him play uncomfortable. As a team we were pretty sharp after that first quarter."
James shot 9-for-17 and attempted only four free throws.
The Spurs stiffened on defense and forced 18 turnovers after falling behind by 15 points in the opening quarter.
San Antonio limited Cleveland to 9-for-23 shooting in the fourth while making 58 percent of its own shots.
Leonard added 20 points and 10 rebounds for San Antonio, which has won 10 straight overall.
Tristan Thompson had 18 points and 14 rebounds for Cleveland, which had won eight in a row. Kevin Love finished with 10 points and 12 rebounds, and J.R. Smith scored 17.
After a 32-point opening quarter, the Cavs were limited to 18 in the second.
"They did a good job of taking us out of our sets, but we also had some really good looks that didn't go down for us," James said.
The Spurs looked unsure on offense early, so they went to an old standard in Parker's drives to the basket.
"We had a hard time getting it going in the first half," Parker said. "I was rolling, so they went with me. In the third quarter, we wanted to establish Kawhi and establish LaMarcus (Aldridge). So we went at them almost every single time in the third quarter. It worked out pretty good for us; we got some wide-open 3s."
WARRIORS 116, LAKERS 98: At Oakland, Calif., Stephen Curry scored 26 points, with his first eight baskets coming on 3-pointers, to lead Golden State. Curry put the Warriors ahead 84-70 on a one-handed breakaway dunk off a long pass from Andre Iguodala in the closing seconds of the third quarter for his first score inside the 3-point line. The reigning NBA MVP made eight 3s for the eighth time this season and the 18th time in his career — most in NBA history.
BULLS 115, 76ERS 111, OT: At Philadelphia, Jimmy Butler scored a career-high 53 points and E'Twaun Moore had seven of his 14 in overtime to lead Chicago over Philadelphia. Butler also had 10 rebounds and six assists while making 15 of 30 field goals and 21 of 25 free throws to help the Bulls snap a three-game losing streak. He became the first Chicago player to score 50 points since Jamal Crawford in 2004.
RAPTORS 106, MAGIC 103, OT: At London, Kyle Lowry scored 24 points, Cory Joseph added 19 and Toronto beat Orlando in overtime at O2 Arena. DeMar DeRozan had 13 points and 11 rebounds to help the Raptors win their fourth straight game. Victor Oladipo scored 27 points and Evan Fournier had 21 for Orlando.
GRIZZLIES 103, PISTONS 101: At Memphis, Tenn., Mario Chalmers scored 25 points, including a leaning 19-foot jumper with less than a second left to give Memphis a victory over Detroit. Chalmers was fouled on the play and missed the ensuing free throw. The shot appeared to miss the front of the rim, and the clock ran out with players scrambling for the rebound.
KINGS 103, JAZZ 101: At Salt Lake City, Rudy Gay scored 24 points and hit the game-winning shot with 0.9 seconds remaining to lift Sacramento over Utah. DeMarcus Cousins had his 21st double-double of the season with 36 points and 17 rebounds. Rajon Rondo added 13 assists and six rebounds for the Kings.