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article imageNBA: Spurs win 50th, manhandle Cavs, 109-99

By Lynn Herrmann     Mar 3, 2011 in Sports
Cleveland - Coming off a “pathetic performance” at Memphis on Tuesday night, the San Antonio Spurs visited Cleveland and on the second night of their back-to-back, blistered the Cavaliers for their 50th win of the season, a breathe-easier 109-99 victory.
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich minced no words after the Memphis game on Tuesday, saying: “It was a pretty pathetic performance on our part. It was mostly due to their aggressiveness and how much they wanted the game. It was a disappointing night and not something to be proud of,” according to MySA.
Indeed, it was one of their sorriest games of the year, a total mental breakdown after learning they would be without star point guard Tony Parker for two to four weeks. Said Manu Ginobili on Parker’s absence: “He is our leader on the court. He makes the decisions, he calls the plays, he handles the pressure and creates for others. He’s a pretty important part of who we are,” MySA reports.
But as is so often the case with these Spurs, they bounced back with a vengeance, taking their frustrations out on the hapless Cavs, the team with the worst record in the league, thanks to LeBron James’ much publicized departure for fame in Florida.
Cleveland is dealing with its own key injury misery this season, as Antawn Jamison’s broken finger will likely leave him sidelined for the remainder of the season. Starters Anderson Verejao and Daniel Gibson are also out with injuries.
The game was not as close as the final score indicates, as the Spurs built their lead to 25 in the fourth quarter, allowing Spurs coach Gregg Popovich to empty the bench, giving his regular rotation players a fourth quarter rest for the second night in a row.
Both teams played seesaw basketball in the first quarter, with San Antonio’s largest lead being four before Ramon Sessions scored at the buzzer to give Cleveland a 25-24 lead going into the second.
Tim Duncan, who made his way onto the NBA’s top 10 list of career shot blockers this week, started the Spurs off on the right note by scoring 10 of his 16 points in the first quarter.
San Antonio’s defensive lapses this season continued during the first half against Cleveland, with the Cavs going on an 11-2 run early in the second quarter, taking a 36-28 lead on a Ryan Hollins three-point play.
The Spurs then fashioned a 7-0 run to pull within one, 36-35, before a floater by DeJuan Blair tied the game at 37 with 6:50 to go before the half. They finally regained the lead, 39-37 on a 19-footer by Antonio McDyess. Moments later, another 19-footer off a pick-and-pop by McDyess sent the Spurs on their way, pushing the lead to 46-41.
A tip-in by DeJuan Blair and ensuing free throw put the Spurs up by seven and a pair of free throws by George HIll on the Spurs next possession made it 55-48, their largest lead of the game.
Cleveland’s J.J. Hickson hit a jumper just before the half to pull within five, 57-52, as the teams headed into intermission.
After a rocky performance against Memphis the night before (6 points, 6 turnovers), Hill returned to form against the Cavs, torching them with 17 first-half points.
Although Hill apologized to fans via Twitter after the Memphis game as well as to Duncan, the Spurs team captain, Duncan simply reminded Hill to do what he does best on the court, play ball. “He kind of got tossed into the fire there in Memphis, not being in that role in a long time. He was a little rusty; didn’t know what to do. He came out tonight and looked more comfortable and more aggressive and played a lot better,” MySA reports.
Hill immediately nailed a huge 3-pointer to start the third quarter and help the Spurs build a 20-point lead in the quarter, including a stretch of 9 straight points by Blair, the team’s 6-foot-7 center.
Cleveland’s Samardo Samuels converted a three-point play to end the third quarter and close the gap to 89-72.
San Antonio started the fourth quarter on a 13-4 run, going up 102-78. By that point, all the Spurs starters were firmly in place on the bench, getting some much needed rest.
Cleveland tried to make a game of it at that point, going on a 22-4 run, including three straight baskets by Christian Eyenga, to pull within 107-97, but the clock was winding down.
At the end, the Spurs had notched their 50th win of the season, earning a day off before returning home where they face the Miami Heat on Friday and Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday.
The Spurs offensive attack was well balanced, with Hill leading the Spurs with 22 points. He also had 5 rebounds and 5 assists. Duncan added 16 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists and three blocks in 22 minutes of action, while Blair added 14 points. Gary Neal and Matt Bonner, both coming off the bench, combined to score 27 points. Ginobili added 13 points, 9 rebounds and 6 assists.
Cleveland’s Samuels scored a career-high 23 points to go along with 10 rebounds. Sessions added14 points and Eyenga, off the bench, added 11.
With the win, the Spurs joined the Los Angeles Lakers as the only two teams in NBA history to win at least 50 games in 12 straight seasons. The Lakers accomplished the feat between 1980 and 1991.
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