CLEVELAND — Forward Tim Duncan, guard Manu Ginobili and the San Antonio Spurs have stood in Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James’ way at various points in his career. Wednesday night was just the latest example.
Duncan had 19 points and 10 rebounds and the Spurs held on for a 92-90 victory over the Cavaliers after James turned the ball over in the final seconds.
The Cavaliers were without any timeouts after Ginobili split two free throws with 9.1 seconds left. James grabbed the rebound and sprinted up the floor but lost his dribble after he went behind his back trying to maneuver around Ginobili and Duncan.
James dribbled off Duncan’s foot, the Spurs came up with the loose ball with 1.9 seconds left and Ginobili dribbled out the clock.
“I tried to make him change direction,” Ginobili said. “Then I was going to chase him. I think it was a bad move by me. I should have run backward. It’s not that easy. He’s so quick. He’s so amazing. I just was there.”
James has a long history and deep respect for the Spurs, who have beaten his teams in two of three NBA Finals meetings. James had 15 points, six rebounds and nine assists, but was held to one basket in the fourth quarter Wednesday and ended the night with five turnovers. Despite the short clock, James said he thought he had enough time to either get to the rim or set up one of his teammates at the buzzer.
“I went behind my back and just lost it,” James said. “Just how the ball rolls sometimes. Not too upset about it.”
The Cavaliers had a pair of 20-second timeouts in the final minute, but used one with 37 seconds left and another with 17.7 seconds left.
“I think we needed to make the timeout calls that we did,” Cavaliers coach David Blatt said. “Do I wish I had one? Yeah, but I thought we took our timeouts with purpose and for good reason.”
Forward Boris Diaw had 19 points, six rebounds and seven assists, forward Kawhi Leonard had 12 points and 10 rebounds and Ginobili had seven points, including the final three for the Spurs in what could be an NBA Finals preview.
There were five lead changes in the final 10 minutes, but the Spurs ultimately won their 10th straight in the series.
Center Anderson Varejao had 23 points and 11 rebounds, including nine of the Cavaliers’ 11 points during one fourth-quarter stretch, guard Kyrie Irving scored 20 points and forward Kevin Love had 10 points and 11 rebounds.
“The Cavs, what you see now, you can multiply by two or three,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “They’re going to be one hell of a team. It’s a new system, new bodies. It doesn’t happen quickly. I’m glad we’re playing them now. They’re going to be a whole lot tougher later on in the year.”
One night after James complained he and the Cavaliers’ other stars were playing too many minutes, Blatt juggled his rotations to reduce the load on James, Irving and Love. But foul trouble for Irving left Cleveland with some quirky lineups at the end of quarters and the Spurs took full advantage, outscoring the Cavaliers 28-11 in the final two minutes of the four quarters combined.
James dismissed the idea that he has a rivalry with the Spurs, but he and Popovich share a mutual respect.
“I’ve had some great battles with these guys,” James said. “Mentally, it’s the best to go against them. They put you in so many difficult situations and you just figure out the way to win.”
NOTES: The Spurs’ flight into Cleveland on Tuesday was delayed four hours after the emergency slide on the plane accidentally deployed. It occurred before any staff or players had arrived at the airport. … F Tim Duncan and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar are the only two players in NBA history to compile at least 25,000 points, 14,000 rebounds and 2,500 blocks in a career. … Cavs coach David Blatt agreed with F LeBron James’ recent minutes assessment and conceded Wednesday that he must find a way to play his star less. “That was not by design. It was more dictated by situation,” Blatt said. “We will make an attempt to get minutes down for some of the guys.” … Legendary wrestler Hulk Hogan attended Wednesday’s game and participated in pregame and in-game ceremonies.
NBA Team Salaries
- NBA Betting Picks: Charlotte Hornets vs. Houston Rockets – Hornets gun for 13th ATS win
- Miami Heat vs. Chicago Bulls preview, prediction, and betting tips – expect a defensive battle in Chicago
- Free NBA picks, previews, predictions and betting tips – Suns are one-point underdogs
- Washington Wizards vs. Dallas Mavericks Preview, Prediction, and Pick
- Portland Trail Blazers vs Golden State Warriors: preview, prediction and betting tips – Warriors poised to dominate at home
Main Page2 weeks ago
Celtics vs. Cavaliers: Betting Picks, Predictions and Preview
Main Page2 weeks ago
Warriors vs. Nets: Predictions, Betting Picks and Preview
Main Page5 days ago
LeBron James receives one-game suspension for elbowing Isaiah Stewart
Main Page2 weeks ago
76ers vs. Jazz: Preview, Predictions and Betting Picks