For the second straight night and just the second time this season, the Cleveland Cavaliers ‘Big 3’ of LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love all scored at least 20 points. For the second straight night and the fourth game in a row, the Cavaliers walk off the basketball court a winner. Saturday night in front of a sold out crowd at Quicken Loans Arena and a national television audience, head coach Tyronn Lue and his Cleveland Cavaliers picked up their signature win of the season. The Cavaliers wrap up the month of January with a 117-103 win over the San Antonio Spurs.
The Cavaliers beat the Spurs for just the second time in the last 13 meetings. Cleveland avenges their 99-95 loss in San Antonio back on January 14. The Cavaliers finish January with a 13-3 record. It’s the first win this season against one of the top two teams in the NBA. The Cavaliers lost both meeting against the World Champion Golden State Warriors.
Cleveland’s new faster pace offense was too much for the Spurs to handle on Saturday night. San Antonio did play without Tim Duncan who missed his third consecutive game with a sore right knee. The Cavaliers put up 37 points in the first quarter and 66 points in the first half against the best defensive team in the NBA. Love scored 18 of his 21 points in the first 24 minutes of basketball. 14 of them coming in the first quarter. Love recorded another double double with a game high eleven rebounds.
James was quiet in the first half. LeBron was letting Love, J.R. Smith, Tristan Thompson and Timofey Mozgov contribute on both ends of the floor. The third quarter belonged to James. 14 of James game high 29 points were in the third quarter along with a chase down block of a Manu Ginobili transition layup. James also blocked a Tony Parker shot in the first that landed in the court side seats.
Irving lived up to his nickname of ‘Mr. fourth quarter.” Irving scored 13 of his 21 points in the final period. Cleveland shot 55 percent for the game and won the rebounding, assists, blocked shots and steals battles. Outside of losing the turnover battle nine to six it was a total team effort in picking up the signature win of the season.
“It was a good win over a great team that will give us confidence,” Lue said. “Kevin carried us in the 1st half, Kyrie and Lebron carried us in the 2nd half..The Big 3 was very good tonight.”
Smith and Thompson also finished in double figures in points. Both Smith and Thompson had ten points. Smith was two of four on three pointers, Thompson pulled down seven rebounds.
Matthew Dellavedova continues to contribute off the bench since last week’s coaching change. Dellavedova lead all bench players with 15 points and knocked down three of five three point shots. Mozgov played only eleven minutes and scored six points in the first half.
The Spurs were a completely different team without Duncan in the lineup. Thompson and Mozgov were able to get easy baskets in the paint, and rebounding was also missed. The Spurs were out rebounded by the Cavaliers 43-32.
Kawhi Leonard lead San Antonio with 24 points. La Marcus Aldridge finished with 15 points, but three personal fouls in the first quarter limited his minutes. With no Duncan and Aldridge on the bench in foul trouble, the Cavaliers took advantage and scored a season high 66 first half points.
The only thing that went wrong for the Cavaliers on this night took place before the game. Locker-room attendants accidentally put out the wrong shorts for James, who came out in the first quarter wearing different ones than his teammates. The Cavaliers wore their hardwood classic uniforms from the 1970’s. James’ teammates had on gold bottoms with wine and white stripes up the sides. LeBron’s shorts were plain. Oops.
The Cavaliers begin a two game road trip on Monday as they face the division rival Indiana Pacers in Indianapolis.