Hard-charging Cavaliers meet skidding Spurs

League: NBA

Posted on: 03 Feb, 2024 at 07:20 AM

Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

One of the NBA's hottest teams faces one of the coldest when the surging Cleveland Cavaliers visit the slumping San Antonio Spurs on Saturday.

Cleveland has won four games in a row and 12 of its past 13. The Cavaliers are coming off a 108-101 victory in Memphis on Thursday. San Antonio has dropped three straight games and nine of the past 12.

Donovan Mitchell led Cleveland with 25 points against the Grizzlies. Max Strus recorded his sixth career double-double (his fourth this season) with 11 points and 10 rebounds, while Caris LeVert added 16 points off the bench.

Cleveland coach J.B. Bickerstaff lauded LeVert for his contribution in a reserve role.

"That's just what he does," Bickerstaff said. "He's a guy who can just get it going and can contribute on both ends. He gets steals, pushes it in transition, offensively. He pushes, he attacks, he makes plays happen. And it seemed like he just continues to make timely shots when we need him most."

The Cavaliers rallied from a 12-point deficit in the second quarter and took charge in the second half, outscoring injury-depleted Memphis by 14 points after the break.

"I thought our guys did a good job just showing resolve," Bickerstaff added. "Obviously, we were much better in the second half. Our defense is what makes us."

Cavaliers center Jarrett Allen racked up 14 points and nine rebounds before sustaining a left ankle injury in the third quarter, ending his career-high streak of 16 consecutive games with a double-double. Allen was listed as questionable for the Saturday game.

Darius Garland, who was playing in his second straight game after missing the previous 19 with a fractured jaw, scored nine points and dished out seven assists.

San Antonio will be playing the second game of a home back-to-back after taking a 114-113 loss to New Orleans on Friday.

The Spurs led by three points with 43 seconds to play but lost when the Pelicans' Zion Williamson produced a dunk and then a layup, the latter with 3.8 seconds to play. The Spurs had a chance to win, but Devin Vassell missed a 3-point attempt with a second left.

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich was asked if he got the shot he wanted at the end.

"Yes. ... We would have liked to have been able to lob it in there and dunk it, but the shot was what we got," Popovich said.

Vassell led the Spurs with 28 points, and Tre Jones added 20. Victor Wembanyama had 16 points, 14 rebounds, seven assists and three blocks while Jeremy Sochan racked up 15 points and 16 rebounds for San Antonio.

The Spurs shot just 11 of 18 from the free-throw line and made only 10 of their 39 3-point attempts. San Antonio did amass a season-high 18 offensive rebounds.

The Spurs played without key reserve guard Keldon Johnson, who missed his second straight game due to a lacerated left elbow. Johnson is expected to be back for the Saturday contest.

San Antonio is set to conclude a homestand that thus far has included two wins and four losses. After Saturday, the team ventures out on its annual three-week Rodeo Road Trip, sending the Spurs away from home for nine games.

--Field Level Media