CLEVELAND — Random dribbles from the Cavaliers’ 117-103 win over the visiting Spurs on Saturday.
1). Head coach Tyronn Lue on if Saturday’s win was the most significant of the season:
“It was a good win for us,” he said. “Going forward, knowing that we have a chance to beat a great team like the San Antonio Spurs just gives us confidence. We can always look back at this game and say ‘listen, we beat the Spurs.’ Now we’ve just got to keep getting better and continue to move on.”
LeBron James answered the same question:
“It’s hard to just say that,” he said. “It’s spur of the moment. But we know we played some good basketball tonight on both sides of the floor. We pushed the tempo offensively, and we executed everything that coach wanted us to do both offensively and defensively versus a very great team.”
Regardless of what the coach and players are saying, the Cavs had to be thrilled to beat a team like the San Antonio Spurs. Entering tonight’s contest, Cleveland was a combined 0-5 versus them, the Chicago Bulls and the Golden State Warriors.
Now the Cavs have proved to themselves that they can not only hang, but beat the best if they really put their minds to it.
2). [Kevin] Love was in the air tonight.
But seriously, in the past couple games, Kevin Love has been utilized to his best abilities by coach Lue. He’s been involved in the offense early (14 first-quarter points on Saturday), he’s attacking with more physicality and most importantly: his confidence is back.
There was a sequence in the second quarter where Cleveland missed a shot and Boris Diaw snagged a rebound to start a fastbreak. But that never happened because of Love’s hustle, as he literally ripped the ball out of his hands and made a nice pass to a dunking Tristan Thompson.
Another situation in the third: As the Spurs cut the lead to 10, LeBron missed a jumper and San Antonio could have had numbers. But Love nabbed the offensive board, only to find a slashing James for an easy layup. The ensuing possession after a Cavalier defensive stop? A smooth three-ball from Love that gave Cleveland a 5-0 spurt in a matter of less than 30 seconds.
Love finished with a 21 points, 11 rebounds and a a block on Tony Parker that came in the third quarter. If Tyronn Lue can get this kind of production out of Kevin Love consistently every night, his promotion will have been justified.
3). Block party at the Q.
Sure, there were only six rejections combined between Cleveland and San Antonio, but the majority of those were emphatic.
LeBron started it off by pummeling an attempted layup by Tony Parker into the sixth row. Spurs rookie Jonathon Simmons returned the favor for his teammate by sending one of James’ layups into the stands a few plays later.
But it was LeBron who had the last laugh, who got revenge on Manu Ginobili for stealing the ball from him, as he ran down the floor and had one of his classic chase-downs. It didn’t get any better for the 38-year-old veteran either, as he was stuffed by Tristan Thompson later in that quarter.