The Spurs came in red hot, winning 14 of their last 15 games, and that was without Tim Duncan. The Big Fundamental was back on the floor for this one, though. Coming off a loss the struggling Minnesota Timberwolves, winning against the league’s number one team seemed nearly impossible.
Our boys didn’t let this massive task faze them. (Hopefully) learning from their last game that you can’t win in this league if you aren’t interested and giving 100%, the Cavs came out full of energy and enthusiasm.
Cleveland was able to build a ten point lead, and led the Spurs 54-46 at halftime. It wasn’t Kyrie Irving who put Cleveland in that position, though. In fact he struggled all night, and only scored six points 2-of-15 shooting on the night. Strange.
Dion Waiters stepped up, however, and dropped a cool 20 points to go along with six rebounds and four assists.
Tyler Zeller, who didn’t have a single point Monday night, had a surprisingly productive night, scoring 16 points and nine rebounds. Strange.
The Spurs had an excellent third quarter, and were able to retake the lead, 74-73, heading into the fourth quarter. The last frame provided a highly contested, back and forth battle.
Tied at 93, with 9.5 seconds on the clock, Waiters drove to the top of the key, pulled off to the left, and nailed a deuce. After a timeout and a foul, San Antonio had an inbounds pass. Tony Parker got it and found Kawhi Leonard all alone in the corner. Leonard nailed a three with 2.9 seconds left. Kyrie got the rock and due to solid defense he lost his balance. Instead of passing it off, he threw up a wild shot that didn’t have much of a chance. Game over. Heartbreaker.
Kyrie has become Cleveland’s best player, and their closer. No questions about it. Going into the game he averaged 56.9 points per 48 minutes in “clutch time” according to 82games.com. However, he has to be willing to pass it off to a teammate in certain situations. Take Wednesday night for example, he was ice cold all night (2-of-14 at that point), and was being completely harassed by Parker. He forced up a terrible shot. Maybe he should have tried to dish quick. Obviously with less than three seconds on the clock one does not have a lot of time. But the point should be considered for future games.
The NBA now enters All Star Weekend. Friday night is the Rising Stars Challenge and will feature four Cavaliers: Irving, Waiters, Tristan Thompson, and Zeller. Game is at 9 p.m. on TNT.
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