7:00 PM ET, April 3, 2012
Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, OH
CLEVELAND -- Daniel Green wasn't looking for vengeance or payback on the Cavaliers. He got some anyway.
Green scored 19 points against a Cleveland team that released him last season, Tony Parker added 19 and the San Antonio Spurs coasted to their eighth straight win, 125-90 over the lifeless Cavs, who have lost eight in a row and were blown out at home again.
Green played his rookie season for Cleveland, which cut him at the end of training camp in 2011. He's found a new home with the Spurs, who built a 22-point lead in the first half, and rested Parker, Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili for most of the fourth quarter while pushing their lead to 37.
"It does mean a little something to me because this was my first team," Green said. "It's nice, but that's not the important thing for me. It's more important that we continue to get better. We want to keep winning going into the playoffs."
Rookie Kyrie Irving scored 13 points for the Cavs in his return after missing one game with a sprained right shoulder. But even with their best player back, the Cavs dropped their eighth straight and followed up a 37-point loss at home to Milwaukee with a 35-point setback.
Coach Byron Scott fears his team might have given up.
"I worry more when me as a coach and my coaching staff want it more than my players. That's when I start to worry," Scott said. "And I'm getting worried."
Antawn Jamison had 15 points for the Cavs, who have dropped 17 of 21 and lost their past seven by an average of 22.3 points. Cleveland now has lost home games by 39, 37 and 35 points this season.
"We gotta turn it up as best we can," said Irving, who played with a protective brace on his shoulder. "What it boils down to is we just have to go out there and play. We all get paid to do this at a really high level. I feel like sometimes sitting there watching or being out there that our competitive level doesn't match other teams.
"We just have to pick it up."
The Spurs began a 16-games-in-23-days stretch to finish the lockout-shortened regular season, a grueling finish before the playoffs for any team, and especially for one with so many veterans.
San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich wants to rest his regulars as much as possible, and a date with the Cavs provided the perfect opportunity to sit his starters.
Duncan and Parker played only 23 minutes, and Ginobili 18, giving the Spurs' big three a chance to get ready for Wednesday's game in Boston.
"Obviously, we're on a back-to-back and we got a little rest for the second game," said Duncan, who took just six shots. "Perfect scenario? Pretty close."
Reserve guard Patrick Mills scored a season-high 20 for San Antonio, which has won 11 of 12 and taken a comfortable hold on the No. 2 spot in the Western Conference behind Oklahoma City.
Green spent much of the pregame visiting with former Cavs teammates, Scott and arena employees, offering a handshake and hug to people he used to see on an almost daily basis.
In the first half, he seemed intent on showing Cleveland what it gave up.
Green, who scored just 40 points in 20 games in his season with the Cavs, made four 3-pointers and scored 16 points to help the Spurs open a 60-41 lead at the break. The 6-foot-6 swingman has gone from being a Cleveland castoff to a starter with the Spurs, who have again gone under the radar but are playing as well as any team in the league.
"We had no expectations for him at the beginning of the season," Parker said of Green. "He's playing great in our system. He's knocking down shots and playing great defense. Sometimes I can relax a little when he takes over at point guard. I like Danny."
After a 3-pointer by Jamison tied it 16-all in the first quarter, the Spurs went to work.
San Antonio reeled off 16 straight points in less than three minutes, and Parker picked up a second personal foul on Irving, who went to the bench with 3:32 left.
When the Cavs scored four quick points to open the second, Popovich called a timeout and spent the break ripping into his players, particularly Mills, who gave up an easy layup.
The Spurs responded to the tongue lashing as Green hit a pair of 3-pointers to help open a 53-31 lead.
Parker scored six straight during a 12-2 run in the third, and James Anderson, who didn't play at all in the first half, closed the quarter with a 3 from the right corner to put San Antonio ahead 90-63.
Scott could only squirm in his chair during the fourth quarter as the Spurs' reserves maintained the huge lead.
After cooling down in the locker room, Cleveland's coach didn't hold back in his assessment of a team showing little fight.
"We have to compete; it's that simple," he said. "If we don't do that, we have no chance. You have to play flawless basketball, but we're not giving ourselves an opportunity to be in a game or win a game because we're not competing at a high level.
"We can't compete one night and the next night not compete at all and the next night compete. That inconsistency is not going to cut it."
While watching Monday's NCAA title game between Kansas and Kentucky, Scott couldn't help thinking about a few of the Wildcats one day wearing Cleveland's wine and gold. "I looked at that Kentucky team and thought, 'How can we get about three of them?' They were that good." ... Cavs G Daniel Gibson underwent surgery in California on Monday to repair a torn tendon in his left foot and ankle. Gibson's season is over. ... Duncan and Parker have played in 751 regular-season games together, the highest total of any pair of current teammates. ... Jamison (19,017) moved into 46th place on the career scoring list, passing Dale Ellis and Reggie Theus.
CLEVELAND, OH - APRIL 3: Boris Diaw #33 of the Cleveland Cavaliers drives to the hoop against Tiago Splitter #22...(Photo by David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images)
Team Stat Comparison
|FGM-FGA||48-81 (.593)||34-82 (.415)|
|3PM-3PA||11-23 (.478)||9-24 (.375)|
|FTM-FTA||18-21 (.857)||13-15 (.867)|
|Fast Break Points||18||0|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||15 (1/0)||14 (0/0)|
Next 5 Games
With their 35-point to the Spurs, the Cavaliers have lost each of their last 7 games by double figures. That surpasses a 6-game streak (12/28/10-1/7/11) for their longest run of double-digit losses in the last 15 years. Statistical support for this note from NBA.com
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