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Cleveland Cavaliers

Spurs Stick Cavaliers 102-97.

By George Thomas Published: March 27, 2010

SAN ANTONIO – Coach Mike Brown copied a lot of what he knows from the San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich. It should be of little surprise then that Friday night’s game between the Cavaliers and Spurs turned into a gritty, grind-it-out affair that didn’t lack for excitement. In the process the Cavs lost the game 102-97, their eight-game win streak and forward Anderson Varejao with a sore left hamstring. Led by the play of guard Manu Ginobili, who scored 30 points and dished out six assists, the Spurs put together enough of a run toward the end of the game to pull out the narrow win. ‘’Manu has played very well against this season,’’ Brown said.  ‘’Not only was he scoring, but he was making the right plays for his team.’’ Ginobili scored 15 of his points in the third quarter to take over the game. ‘’I just tried to be aggressive.  I made a couple of three-pointers and I went to find open teammates,’’ Ginobili said. ‘’I think the big key were those three-pointers that really got me going in the fourth quarter.’’ LeBron James led the Cavs with 27 points, five rebounds and 10 assists while Antawn Jamison added 24 points, nine rebounds. J.J. Hickson continued to point to himself and make Brown’s decisions regarding the playoff rotation difficult with 20 points and eight rebounds. Possessing the intensity of a playoff game, the Spurs were able to take things over at the end of the game with impressive defense. With a minute left in the game the Cavs found themselves down by six and staring a loss squarely in the face.  By the time Ginobili sank two free throws with 44.9 second left to put the Spurs up 94-86, the Cavs’ fate was inevitable. Though coach Brown did what he had to, making the game longer to get that one opportunity to tie it up it never happened.  In one respect the Cavs beat themselves as they shot just 65 percent from the line (15-of-23).  The loss reversed what could have easily been a win after the first half. ‘’They executed great,’’ James said.  ‘’When they shoot the ball well, they’re very tough to beat because we already know they’re going to play defense.’’ The Cavs looked as if they were going to take things in hand in the second quarter when the hit on 9-of-13 of their shots including five three-pointers. That’s when Jamison began to assert himself.  He went into the second scoreless, but soon found his rhythm offensively, hitting 6-of-9 shots and connecting on three treys in the period.  When he couldn’t keep things going, James picked them up.  He scored 17 of his points in the second half, only to watch as they came up short against a motivated San Antonio team. The Cavs also slowed the Spurs offensively allowing them to take a 50-45 lead into the half. In a game that went back-and-forth, one constant existed, suspect officiating as referees missed calls on both sides of the court.  Some were more blatant than others, however leading players to voice their concerns more than normal.  There was a certain almost white haired coach named Popovich doing the same. In fact a key charging call on Hickson gave the Spurs a chance to nail things down. The Spurs had everything to play for as they continue to scrounge for playoff positioning in the NBA’s Western Conference. But the Cavs blew a big opportunity as well, as the Oklahoma City Thunder blew out the Los Angeles Lakers.  Had the Cavs won they would have inched closer to the clinching the best record in the league. Instead they will toil on, looking to put space between themselves and the Lakers.

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