LeBron James scored 29 points and Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving added 21 apiece as the Cleveland Cavaliers finally took down one of the NBA’s elite teams, beating the San Antonio Spurs 117-103 on Saturday night.
The Cavs won their fourth straight under coach Tyronn Lue, who was promoted after David Blatt was fired on 22 January. Cleveland came in 0-5 against San Antonio, Golden State and Chicago, three top-tier teams who figure to contend with them for a title this season.
Lue has the Cavs playing at a faster pace and the Spurs, who were again without center Tim Duncan, couldn’t keep up with them. Duncan missed his third straight game with a sore right knee.
Kawhi Leonard scored 24 and LaMarcus Aldridge 15 for the Spurs, who lost for just the second time in 16 games. They lost to the Warriors on Monday.
Cleveland’s 117 points were the second-most given up this season by San Antonio, which came in allowing a league-best 90.6 points per game. The Cavs had more than that after three quarters.
Irving (10) and Matthew Dellavedova (8) scored Cleveland’s first 18 points in the fourth quarter. James scored the next three when he was fouled while going to the basket by San Antonio’s Patty Mills, who was flicked aside like a gnat by the four-time MVP on his way to a layup and three-point play.
Down by 17 points at the half, the Spurs scored the first eight of the third quarter, a spurt that prompted an oh-no-here-they-come vibe through Cleveland’s loud crowd, which was in playoff form.
But the Cavs responded with a flurry that showcased their offensive depth. Love and Dellavedova hit three-pointers and James powered inside for several baskets, helping Cleveland push its lead to 88-69 late in the third. James scored 16 in the quarter.
James, too, made one of his signature defensive plays by chasing down Spurs guard Manu Ginobili on a breakaway and blocking his shot at the rim.
Elsewhere, Harrison Barnes hit a three-pointer with 0.2 seconds remaining and Golden State escaped with a 108-105 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers.
Klay Thompson had 32 points and Stephen Curry scored 23 for the Warriors, who nearly blew a 24-point second-half lead. Draymond Green added 10 points and 13 rebounds for Golden State, who opened a three-game road trip with their sixth straight victory while matching the NBA’s best start through 47 games.
Isaiah Canaan had 18 points to lead the 76ers, who dropped to 7-41 but nearly pulled off the most improbable victory of the NBA season.
“It shows we have no letdown, no backdown,” Philadelphia coach Brett Brown said.
Philadelphia trailed by double-digits most of the second half until a late 15-2 run tied the game at 105 with 22.3 seconds left. The Warriors won it when Curry passed inside to Green, who fired outside to Barnes on the right baseline.
“We kind of went into it knowing they were going to trap Steph, so whoever it was that got the ball tried to make a play,” Barnes said. “[Green] made that kick to the corner. I just let it ride.”