Duncan had 19 points and 10 rebounds and the Spurs held on for a
92-90 victory over the Cavaliers after James turned the ball over in
the final seconds.
The Cavaliers were without any timeouts after Ginobili split two
free throws with 9.1 seconds left. James grabbed the rebound and
sprinted up the floor but lost his dribble after he went behind his
back trying to maneuver around Ginobili and Duncan.
James dribbled off Duncan's foot, the Spurs came up with the loose
ball with 1.9 seconds left and Ginobili dribbled out the clock.
"I tried to make him change direction," Ginobili said. "Then I was
going to chase him. I think it was a bad move by me. I should have
run backward. It's not that easy. He's so quick. He's so amazing. I
just was there."
James has a long history and deep respect for the Spurs, who have
beaten his teams in two of three NBA Finals meetings. James had 15
points, six rebounds and nine assists, but was held to one basket in
the fourth quarter Wednesday and ended the night with five
turnovers. Despite the short clock, James said he thought he had
enough time to either get to the rim or set up one of his teammates
at the buzzer.
"I went behind my back and just lost it," James said. "Just how the
ball rolls sometimes. Not too upset about it."
The Cavaliers had a pair of 20-second timeouts in the final minute,
but used one with 37 seconds left and another with 17.7 seconds
"I think we needed to make the timeout calls that we did," Cavaliers
coach David Blatt said. "Do I wish I had one? Yeah, but I thought we
took our timeouts with purpose and for good reason."
Forward Boris Diaw had 19 points, six rebounds and seven assists,
forward Kawhi Leonard had 12 points and 10 rebounds and Ginobili had
seven points, including the final three for the Spurs in what could
be an NBA Finals preview.
There were five lead changes in the final 10 minutes, but the Spurs
ultimately won their 10th straight in the series.
Center Anderson Varejao had 23 points and 11 rebounds, including
nine of the Cavaliers' 11 points during one fourth-quarter stretch,
guard Kyrie Irving scored 20 points and forward Kevin Love had 10
points and 11 rebounds.
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"The Cavs, what you see now, you can multiply by two or three,"
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "They're going to be one hell of a
team. It's a new system, new bodies. It doesn't happen quickly. I'm
glad we're playing them now. They're going to be a whole lot tougher
later on in the year."
One night after James complained he and the Cavaliers' other stars
were playing too many minutes, Blatt juggled his rotations to reduce
the load on James, Irving and Love. But foul trouble for Irving left
Cleveland with some quirky lineups at the end of quarters and the
Spurs took full advantage, outscoring the Cavaliers 28-11 in the
final two minutes of the four quarters combined.
James dismissed the idea that he has a rivalry with the Spurs, but
he and Popovich share a mutual respect.
"I've had some great battles with these guys," James said.
"Mentally, it's the best to go against them. They put you in so many
difficult situations and you just figure out the way to win."
NOTES: The Spurs' flight into Cleveland on Tuesday was delayed four
hours after the emergency slide on the plane accidentally deployed.
It occurred before any staff or players had arrived at the airport.
... F Tim Duncan and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar are the only two players in
NBA history to compile at least 25,000 points, 14,000 rebounds and
2,500 blocks in a career. ... Cavs coach David Blatt agreed with F
LeBron James' recent minutes assessment and conceded Wednesday that
he must find a way to play his star less. "That was not by design.
It was more dictated by situation," Blatt said. "We will make an
attempt to get minutes down for some of the guys." ... Legendary
wrestler Hulk Hogan attended Wednesday's game and participated in
pregame and in-game ceremonies.
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