San Antonio clinched a playoff berth and extended its home winning streak to eight games with a 105-76 win over the Phoenix Suns on Saturday.
“We always look at the loss column and try to catch those guys (Minnesota), but even if we don’t, we want to be playing the best basketball possible,” Rose said.
Tim Duncan’s 50th double-double of the season might have been his easiest one. Duncan had 14 points and 10 rebounds in just 18 minutes Saturday.
Hedo Turkoglu had 14 points and Tony Parker and Jason Hart each added 12 for the Spurs, who gave their starters plenty of rest. Parker played 27 minutes, the most among the starters, while 42-year-old backup center Kevin Willis saw 17 minutes of action.
James scored the Cavaliers’ final 10 points, becoming the youngest player to score 40 or more points in an NBA game.
“I hate losing. I don’t like losing. I seized the opportunity for us to win and I was able to capture it,” said James, who also had a career-high 13 assists along with six rebounds and three steals.
James is 19 years and 87 days old. Clifford Robinson was the previous youngest player to score 40 or more, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Robinson had 45 points for Detroit four days short of his 20th birthday on March 9, 1980.
The Cavaliers are battling Boston for the eighth playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. They trail the Celtics by a half-game.
The Cavaliers had not won since point guard Jeff McInnis bruised his right shoulder March 16 against Chicago. He was placed on the injured list before the game.
McInnis will miss a minimum of five games. The soonest he can return is April 6 against the Toronto Raptors.
STANDINGS (through March 27): Cavaliers - 5th place, 21 GB, Central Division. Spurs - 2nd place, 1 1/2 GB, Midwest Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Cavaliers - James, 20.9 ppg; Boozer, 11.5 rpg; McInnis, 6 apg. Spurs - Duncan, 22.7 ppg and 12.6 rpg; Parker, 5.5 apg.
SEASON SERIES: Cavaliers, 1-0.
LAST MEETING: Feb. 20; Cavaliers, 89-87. At Cleveland, James scored 32 points, Ilgauskas made a key putback in the final minute to lead the Cavaliers.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Cavaliers - 11-24 on the road; Spurs - 28-8 at home.
INJURIES: Cavaliers - F Jason Kapono (knee); G McInnis (shoulder); C Ruben Boumtje-Boumtje (ankle). Spurs - G Matt Carroll (knee); G Alex Garcia (knee); G Anthony Carter (knee); F-C Sean Marks (knee).