Duncan, Leonard lead Spurs over Cavs, 119-113

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 16, 2013 at 11:34 pm •  Published: March 16, 2013
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SAN ANTONIO (AP) — The San Antonio Spurs are without Tony Parker and their usual fire on defense, but they still have Tim Duncan. They needed the All-Star power forward to overcome their alarming lack of defense.

Duncan had 30 points, 12 rebounds and five blocks, and the Spurs beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 119-113 on Saturday night.

Kawhi Leonard added 24 points and 13 boards, and Manu Ginobili added 14 points and 10 assists for San Antonio (51-16), which is 1 1/2 games ahead of Oklahoma City for the top seed in the Western Conference.

"Tim saved our (butt)," said Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, who was ejected midway through the second quarter. "He obviously carried the whole night for us. He was great. It shouldn't have to be that way."

Nando De Colo had 11 points and Tiago Splitter 10 for the Spurs.

Playing without its top two players in point guard Kyrie Irving and center Anderson Varejao, Cleveland (22-44) led 103-102 with 5 minutes left in the game.

Opponents were averaging 96.2 points against the Spurs entering Saturday's game, but the Cavaliers had 90 after three quarters. For a franchise and a coach that has won four NBA titles on the shoulders of its defense, the lack of focus is troubling to say the least.

"We've got to step up and play better," Ginobili said. "The playoffs are around the corner; 15 games to go and we are doing worse than at the beginning of the season. We've got to go by this slump and get our things together."

Wayne Ellington had 21 points and fellow reserve Marreese Speights added 19 for Cleveland. Shaun Livingston had 16 points, and Alonzo Gee and Dion Waiters added 15 apiece.

Neither offense was slowed by the loss of its starting All-Star point guards. Parker is expected to miss another two weeks with a Grade 2 left ankle sprain and Cleveland will be without Irving (shoulder) for another three weeks.

It was defense that both teams were lacking.

"We've been emphasizing for two and half weeks and it hasn't done any good," Popovich said. "I need to learn another language or I don't know what. But, very disappointed in our defensive execution in the last two to three weeks after we raised our stock from being a middle of the road defensive team last year to one of the top two or three this year.

"Then in the last three weeks, we decide to toss it; that it's not important. I'm really concerned and disappointed in that."

Frustration with that defense may have led to Popovich's ejection. He was ejected with 6:33 left in the first half after arguing a charge Ed Malloy called on Boris Diaw against Luke Walton. After the initial technical, Popovich was quickly assessed a second and ejected after storming onto the court, yelling and pointing at Malloy.



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