EditorsNote: Several tweaks
DeMar DeRozan scored 25 points, 21 of them in the second half, but his assist on a 3-pointer by Patty Mills with 14.5 seconds left proved to be the key play in the San Antonio Spurs’ 116-110 win over the visiting Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday.
DeRozan drove the lane and made a difficult pinpoint pass to Mills in the corner that the reserve guard drained to expand the Spurs’ lead to four points. San Antonio shrugged off a ragged first half, moved to the lead in the third quarter and held off the Cavaliers in the fourth for the win, its 11th in its past 14 games.
The victory allowed the Spurs (44-32), the eighth-place team in the Western Conference standings, to gain a half-game on seventh-place Oklahoma City (44-31), which was idle, and pick up a full game on the sixth-place Los Angeles Clippers (45-31), who lost to the Milwaukee Bucks.
San Antonio, which has six games to play, can clinch a playoff berth for the 22nd straight year if Sacramento loses at Houston on Saturday or with a win over the Kings on Sunday in San Antonio.
Bryn Forbes added 19 points for San Antonio, with Marco Belinelli scoring 16, LaMarcus Aldridge hitting for 14 and Rudy Gay and Mills contributing 12 and 11, respectively.
Collin Sexton had 24 points for the Cavaliers (19-57), who have lost four straight games. Kevin Love scored 18, Brandon Knight added 14, Larry Nance Jr. tallied 13 points and took 11 rebounds, David Nwaba scored 11 points and Jordan Clarkson added 10.
Cleveland led 53-44 advantage at halftime, as Love paced all scorers with 16 points on 6 of 9 shooting from the floor and Sexton added 15.
Forbes and Belinelli led the Spurs with 10 each in the half.
After the game, the Spurs retired the jersey and number of Manu Ginobili, who played all 16 of his NBA seasons in San Antonio and won four league titles as one of the Spurs’ Big Three along with Tim Duncan and Tony Parker.
—Field Level Media