Cavaliers win seventh straight holding of Spurs 117-108 
            BY TIM SHIRER
(CLEVELAND, OH) - On Saturday night the Cleveland Cavaliers won their sixth straight game. Impressive yes, but the fact they did it while playing five games in seven nights makes it even more impressive. On Monday night they tried to run the streak to seven games as the San Antonio Spurs paid a visit to Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. These were not your father’s Spurs as they are struggling this season with a 14-43 (5-22 road) record entering the game. The Cavs win streak is their longest since win eight in a row from October 22 to November 6.

Enter the contest tonight the Spurs led the all-time series 66-36, but the Cavs held the advantage in Cleveland (Richfield Coliseum, RMFH) 26-25. On Monday night the Cavs added to their win total against San Antonio in Cleveland with 117-108 win extending their win streak to seven games and pulling to within a half game of the Philadelphia 76ers.

In the first minute of the contest, it was the Evan Mobley show as the big man from USC scored the first six Cavs points giving the Cleveland a 6-3 (Zach Collins had the three for the Spurs) lead with 11:08 left on the clock in the first period. The Cavs extended their lead to 17-7 with 7:11 left in the first period when Jarrett Allen deposited two free throws and led the Cavs at that point of the game with seven early points. Isaac Okoro then got into the act knocking down a three and giving the Cavs a 22-9 lead with 6:05 left in the opening quarter. The Cavs lead ballooned to 27-12 with 4:34 left when Donovan Mitchell hit a long three. When the quarter ended the Cavs held a 15 point lead at 34-19. Keldon Johnson led all scorers in the first quarter with 10 points. Allen led nine points. Mobley had 8 1st quarter points. The Cavs outrebounded the spurs 14-7.

Early in the second quarter the two team traded points on possessions with the Spurs cutting into the Cavs lead trimming it to nine points at 39-30 with 8:30 left when Keita Bates-Diop tossed in a layup causing Cavs coach JB Bickerstaff to call a timeout. The Cavs responded scoring the next five points finished off on a Mitchell three with 7:03 left to extended the Cavs lead to 44-30. The Cavs took their biggest lead of the half at the 3:11 mark when Darius Garland hit Mitchell with a nice pass and Mitchell deposited a three in the basket giving the Cavs a 55-39 lead. Cleveland continued to extend the lead and finished the half with a 65-49 lead. Mitchell led everyone with 20 first half points. Allen had 13 and Mobley had 10. Johnson led the Spurs with 15. The first half was pretty much determined by one factor and that was turnovers as the Spurs turned the ball over 11 times and the Cavaliers took advantage turning it into 20 points. Meanwhile Cleveland did a good job only turning the ball over five times turning into four Spurs points. Points in the paint were close as the Spurs led the category 26-24. Rebounds were even at 19-19. The Cavs bench did outperform the Spurs bench by a 14-8 margin. Cleveland also got nine fast break points while San Antonio only managed three.

The Cavs continued to build their lead early in the third with 10:02 left they took a 72-51 lead on a Mitchell three his sixth three of the game. The Spurs then went on a run scoring the next nine points cutting the Cleveland lead to 72-60 with 8:17 left on a fast break layup by Malaki Branham. With 5:49 left in the quarter the Spurs cut the Cavs lead to 11 on a triple by Bates-Diop, the Cavs led 78-67. Two possessions later Bates-Diop deposited a layup as he was fouled by Garland. Diop converted the free throw and the Cleveland lead was at 80-70 with 4:48 left. The Spurs then cut the lead to nine at 84-75 on a layup by Johnson with 3:38 left in the third. With 2:15 left in the third quarter and the Cavs up 87-75 Allen was called for a foul in the paint on Blake Wesley. Bickerstaff challenged the call, and it was overturned resulting a jump ball. The Spurs who have struggled on the road all season were not going away cutting the lead to 89-81 with :11 left in the third on a layup by Charles Bassey, but Cedi Osman responded with a layup with only :01.9 left on the clock giving Cleveland a 91-81 after 36 minutes. Mitchell led everyone with 32 points. John led the Spurs with 24. The Spurs did outrebound the Cavs 12-7 in the third period to take a 31-26 advantage through three.  
No doubt the Spurs are a team coached by a great coach Greg Popovich as they are not loaded with talent but come to compete every night once. With 9:57 left in the fourth San Antonio trimmed the Cavs lead to 95-89 on a fast break layup by Wesley. Bickerstaff had seen enough and quickly called for a timeout. The Spurs then cut the lead to 95-91 with 9:16 left on a layup by Bassey. The Cavs finally went on a run and outscored the Spurs 8-2 and built the lead to ten at 103-93 with 6:32 left on a Mitchell fast break layup. The basket accounted for Mitchell’s 37th point. The Spurs cut the lead to nine with 3:30 left on the clock at 107-98 when Devonte’ Graham hit a three. For the final two minutes the two teams traded either baskets or turnovers to complete a game that consisted of 32 turnovers combined but Cleveland held off the feisty Spurs to pick up the win 117-108.
Mitchell led the Cavs with 41 points. It was the sixth time this season that he has reached the 40+ point mark in a game. The Cavs had three other players in double figures led by Allen with 17, Mobley with 15 and Garland with 16, 14 of those 16 came in the second half. Johnson led the Spurs with 25 in the loss. The Cavs had a slight edge on the boards outrebounding San Antonio 36-35, but had a large edge in the final quarter outworking the Spurs 10-4.

The Cavs will play their final game before the All-Star break on Wednesday night in Philadelphia against the 76ers (31-19, 21-8 home) at the Wells Fargo Center at 7:30 pm. The Cavs and 76ers have played on time this season on November 30th with Cleveland winning the game handedly 113-85. Philadelphia leads the all-time series 114-107 and also has the advantage in Philadelphia 66-45. The Cavs have lost two straight in the city of brotherly love. 
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​POSTED 02/13/2023 21:38
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Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell.                                     Photo by Tommy Shirer