Talk about a strange game.
The Cleveland Cavaliers played the San Antonio Spurs about as tough as you could possibly hope, and they did it on a night in which Kyrie Irving arguably played the worst game of his career since his debut game against the Raptors last season.
The Cavaliers came out strong and rode a combination of impressive bench play (especially on defense) and an unexpected offensive onslaught from Tyler Zeller to outscore the Spurs 32-25 in the 2nd quarter en route to an 8 point half time lead. The 2nd half would mostly be played with a 5 point swing in either direction and the Cavaliers looked to be in good shape to steal a win from the NBA’s best team.
With a 3 point lead, the Cavaliers saw the Spurs’ Gary Neal hit a big three to tie the game. On the ensuing possession Dion Waiters, who led the Cavaliers with 20 points, hit a nice step back 20 foot jumper to give the Cavaliers the 2 point edge with 9 seconds left. But the Spurs had one more play left in them and Tony Parker drove and kicked it out to a wide open Kawhi Leonard who drilled the game winning three.
The Cavaliers had one more chance with two seconds left and drew up a play for Kyrie Irving to redeem his disastrous night, but all Kyrie could do was slip, spin, and throw up an ugly prayer of a shot that had no real chance to go in. Kyrie finished 2-15 from the field for 6 points while his counterpart on the Spurs, Tony Parker, led all scorers with 24 points. To his credit, Kyrie did chip in 7 assists with just 2 turnovers, but he also committed 5 fouls and just looked really off all night. It’s hard not to wonder if his ankle is bothering him more than he’s letting on.
While the loss stings, the Cavaliers should be proud of the way they competed tonight while their leader was struggling. The bench unit was outstanding and the Cavaliers gave great effort on defense for most of the game. Moral victories don’t count for much, but there are worse ways to head into the All Star break than this.
|Percentages||.452||.263||.833||Team Rebounds: 4|
|Nando De Colo||11:47||1-3||0-0||0-0||-7||0||0||2||1||0||0||0||0||2|
|Aron Baynes||DNP – Coach’s Decision|
|Stephen Jackson||DNP – Inactive|
|Cory Joseph||DNP – Inactive|
|Patrick Mills||DNP – Coach’s Decision|
|Percentages||.412||.182||.867||Team Rebounds: 12|
|Omri Casspi||DNP – Coach’s Decision|
|Daniel Gibson||DNP – Coach’s Decision|
|Kevin Jones||DNP – Coach’s Decision|
|Josh Selby||DNP – Inactive|
|Anderson Varejao||DNP – Inactive|