The San Antonio Spurs dug themselves into too deep of a hole for them to climb out of Monday night against the Cleveland Cavaliers. After trailing 34-19 in the first 12 minutes, the team played well the rest of the way but just couldn’t close the gap. The Spurs (14-44) lost their 13th consecutive game as their winless Rodeo Road Trip rolled on against the Cavaliers (38-22), falling 117-109.
Six Spurs scored in double-digits, including all five of the starters, but it just wasn’t enough to counter Cleveland’s Donovan Mitchell. The former Utah Jazz star shined with a game-high 41 points while shooting 60 percent from the floor. Around him, Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen dominated the glass as they each recorded a double-double. The two bigs combined for 32 points and 21 rebounds. For San Antonio, recent acquisition Devonte’ Graham had a strong night with a game-high eight assists from the bench. He contributed 12 points of his own to support Keldon Johnson who led the Spurs with 25 points.
Close But Not Enough for the San Antonio Spurs
From the onset, nobody gave San Antonio a chance in this one. They opened as 16.5-point underdogs in Cleveland, and it looked early like they might lose by even more. After trailing by 15, they picked it up through the middle two frames, however, and gave the Cavs all they could handle. By the start of the fourth quarter, the Spurs trailed by 10 points, but they were surging after falling behind by 20 points. With just under 10 minutes left in the game, it was a four-point affair and it was looking like San Antonio might steal a win. Of course, they didn’t enter the night 0-38 when trailing after three quarters for no reason, and any hope they had proved false.
What really did the Spurs in down the stretch was falling into foul trouble. They had Cleveland in the bonus for the final nine minutes of the game and the home team took advantage. Within two minutes from that point, the Cavs went to the free-throw line four times for a 6-0 scoring run. That gave Cleveland the breathing room they needed and they never let San Antonio closer than eight points again.
There are a lot of positives the Spurs can walk away from this one with, going into their final game before the All-Star break. Despite the disadvantage in size, Cleveland only out-rebounded them by one, 36-35. San Antonio also won at the three-point line, out-shooting the Cavs 38 percent to 32 percent, though Cleveland made one more basket. The Spurs also shot 50.6% from the floor, which isn’t shabby for facing the fourth-best team in the Eastern Conference.
With the 2023 NBA All-Star Weekend just days away, the Spurs have just one game left before the break. On Wednesday, they’ll travel to Charlotte to face the Hornets (16-43) who just snapped their seven-game losing streak on Monday night against the Atlanta Hawks. The starting rotation for Charlotte went wild with four of the five players scoring more than 20 points. Leading the way was LaMelo Ball who scored a game-high 30 points. San Antonio will have their hands full if the Hornets don’t cool off over Tuesday. Charlotte connected on 20 three-pointers (54%) off of 36 total assists.
Wednesday’s game will be the first meeting of the two teams since the season opener back in October. A contest that seems a lifetime ago, the Hornets took that game 129-102 without the services of Ball. That loss sparked a run by San Antonio who won five of their next six games after that before the losing settled in.
Full Box Score @ NBA.com.