The Homestand-that-shouldn’t-have-been-the-Underworld-but-ended-that-way finally came to a merciful but brutal end as the San Antonio Spurs got blown off their home court by a lowly Cleveland Cavaliers team coming in on a five-game losing streak. The Silver and Black got outscored in each quarter, and the Cavs seemingly couldn’t miss as they roasted a slow Spurs defense from all over the court for the 125-101 loss, leaving them with a .500 record after going 2-7 on their homestand.
DeMar DeRozan led the Spurs with 20 points. Darius Garland had another career night against San Antonio with 37 points on 14-22 shooting, 5-10 from three, and four other Cavs scored in double figures, led by 22 from Colin Sexton.
- With Dejounte Murray out with a sore foot, Luka Samanic got the third start of his career in his place. Funnily enough, the Spurs just listed him as a guard instead of sliding DeRozan or Keldon Johnson over. Granted, Samanic is a very versatile player, but it just goes to show basketball is as positionless as ever. He had two rebounds and three assists in the first quarter, including this nice pass to Jakob Poeltl in transition, but two quick fouls brought Rudy Gay in early.
- The Cavs didn’t have much going on offense for at least the first part of the first quarter, but Darious Garland got hot early with their first nine points in a sign if things to come. The Spurs went on a 10-0 run to get up 19-11, but the Cavs ended the quarter on a 12-3 run for a 28-26 lead as the Spurs bench sputtered on both ends. On the bright side, those three points came courtesy of Gourgi Dieng — back from a shoulder sprain suffered in his debut — making his first three as a Spur. A stretch five is something the Spurs have rarely (if ever) had on the roster, so it was almost a surreal sight.
- Remember that famed second unit that was among the best in the league and used to provide the Spurs with a spark that made them the best second quarter team in the league by a landslide? Of course, some of that can’t be helped — Poeltl is rightfully starting now, plus some lineup shifts from Derrick White returning from injury have happened — but those were fun times. (It doesn’t help that Gay has been basically the only bench player with anything going on offense during this homestand, and no Lonnie Walker to create offense for the new bench unit has certainly hurt.)
- Speaking of which, the Spurs’ stint of being remarkably bad in the second quarters of this homestand continued tonight. They once again entered halftime down double digits, thanks to a horrific quarter on both ends that saw them outscored 28-21 (and it honestly felt like more). The Cavs got whatever they wanted on their end, and the Spurs sputtered on their side with four turnovers, poor ball movement and seemingly no one willing to take the open shot. They finally found something by forcing the ball to DeRozan, which helped them start scoring again, but they still couldn’t stop the Cavs on the other end.
- The Cavs remained hot in the third quarter as Garland, Sexton, and Isaiah Hartenstein (who?) torched the Spurs on every drive, and even though the Spurs offense was better, they were still just trading twos for threes with the Cavs and couldn’t capitalize on their few misses, whether they were giving up offensive rebounds or fouls. Ed Malloy missing Garland blatantly stepping out of bounds on a drive to the basket that resulted in an and-1 for Hartenstein perfectly defined how the Spurs night was going. They were outscored 43-33 in third, and the blowout was on.
- After seemingly finding his form again, it was an off night for White. With the starting unit missing Murray’s near 16 points per game (and unlikely to get it all back from Samanic), they needed someone else to step up on offense, and try as he might, it wasn’t White’s night. He scored just 13 points on 4-16 shooting, including 0-6 from three. (In another example of “it was that kind of night” for the Spurs, his only made three was waived off due to a foul before the shot.) Still, if there was been one positive note to take away from this homestand, it’s that he seems to be close to himself again.
- I’m not a Gregg Popovich hater or one who is going to sit here and call for him to resign because he’s far too respected and done too much for that, but has anyone else noticed that his approach lately seems to be to sit and watch when his team is struggling, but when it’s going well he’s up on his feet and animated? Maybe this approach worked with the Big Three, but it’s not on this younger squad, and it’s a little baffling to me that he’s not seeing that maybe he needs to change up things up a bit. His team is tired and struggling to find energy, so he needs to help produce it. (He eventually stood up again once the lead started creeping past 15, but he still just stood there for the most part, calling the occasional play.)
For the Cavs fans’ perspective, visit Fear the Sword.
The Spurs now enter the true gauntlet of the second half of the schedule, with 17 of their final 24 games on the road (which might be a good thing based on their home vs. road record), beginning with the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday. Tipoff will be at 8:00 PM CT on Bally Sports SW-SA.`