CLEVELAND: For the second time in as many nights, the Cavaliers’ Big Three played like three superstars. As a result, a team in turmoil for the last week notched its much-needed signature win of the season.
LeBron James scored 29 points and Kyrie Irving scored 21, including 10 in the fourth quarter, to give the Cavs a 117-103 win Saturday night against the San Antonio Spurs.
James added seven assists and Kevin Love had 21 points and 11 rebounds — the second time in as many nights all three Cavs stars scored at least 20 points in a game. They controlled the tempo from the start and took advantage of a Spurs team playing without Tim Duncan on the same night LaMarcus Aldridge was fighting foul trouble.
Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard scored 24 points and Aldridge added 15.
The Cavs began the night winless against the two best teams in the West.
They lost at San Antonio earlier this month and lost twice to the Golden State Warriors, including an embarrassing 34-point loss here less than two weeks ago.
Duncan missed Saturday’s game with a sore right knee and Aldridge sat the entire second quarter because of foul trouble.
Aldridge picked up his second foul while trying to keep Tristan Thompson off the glass in the first quarter, but Spurs coach Gregg Popovich stuck with him. Ninety seconds later, Aldridge fouled Thompson again fighting for a rebound and had to sit the remainder of the half.
The entire dynamic changed with the Spurs missing two of their best post players. The Cavs shot 64 percent in the second quarter and led 66-49 at the half. The 66 points matched their season high for points in a half. They also scored 66 in the first half of Friday’s victory at the Detroit Pistons.
It was a turbulent week for the Cavs, who have taken criticism across the league — including from Popovich — for firing coach David Blatt despite owning the best record in the East.
The Cavs have dismissed their poor record against the West’s best throughout the season and coach Tyronn Lue tried to do the same before this one.
“If we take care of business and do what we’re supposed to,” Lue said, “we don’t have to beat this team until June.”
They did anyway. Irving and backup point guard Matthew Dellavedova combined for the first 18 points of the fourth quarter and the Cavs maintained a double-digit lead most of the night. A three-point play from James late in the fourth pushed the lead to 113-93, their first 20-point lead of the night.
The Cavs have won four straight games under Lue and averaged 115 points per victory.
Jason Lloyd can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Cavs blog at www.ohio.com/cavs. Follow him on Twitter www.twitter.com/JasonLloydABJ.