Spurs 101, Cavaliers 93
Bowen, the guy the San Antonio Spurs sic on their opponent’s top perimeter scorer, limited Cleveland’s rookie sensation to six points in the first half of the Spurs’ 101-93 win over the Cavaliers on Monday night.
James, coming off a career-high 41 points on Saturday, finished with 18 and most of that came after San Antonio had built a double-digit lead.
Back in February, when Bowen got his first look at James, the 19-year-old scored 32 points in a 89-87 Cleveland win.
“The last time my play wasn’t really aggressive,” said Bowen, who gives up a couple of inches and about 40 pounds to James. “He’s talented. I’m just doing what I do. I create havoc.”
Bowen shadowed James all over the floor, bumping and poking and prodding him whenever the ball came his way.
James went 3-for-9 in the first half before scoring 12 points in the third quarter, half of them while being guarded by Manu Ginobili. He then sat out the entire fourth quarter.
When asked if he struggled, James said, “Eighteen points in three quarters—I don’t know if I’d really call that struggling.”
The victory keeps San Antonio a game and a half behind first-place Minnesota in the Midwest Division race, while Cleveland slipped to one and a half games behind Boston for the eighth playoff slot in the Eastern Conference.
“The games mean so much more now—you are fighting for a playoff spot every night,” Cavs coach Paul Silas said. “I think we might have been intimidated. At this time of the year you really have to have been there before to really know about it.”
The Spurs led by as many as 23 early in the fourth quarter. Lee Nailon scored 11 of his 15 points in the fourth for the Cavs, who outscored the Spurs 28-15 in the quarter to make the score respectable.
Zydrunas Ilgauskas matched James with 18.
James scored his first basket on a fast-break dunk about a minute into the game, and the Cavs briefly held a small lead in the first quarter.
San Antonio went ahead for good at 18-17 on a Ginobili’s driving dunk over Carlos Boozer at 2:25 in the first, and he followed with 3-pointers on the Spurs’ next two possessions to make the score 24-19.
“It’s been a long time since I’ve seen (Ginobili) dunk like that,” Parker said. “It was so high and then he dunked it hard. It was a little impolite— it’s not fair to the guy guarding him.”
San Antonio made 14 of its 21 shots in the second, and the Cavs went 8-for-17 to cut the difference to 59-47 at the break.
Cleveland was limited to only two rebounds in the quarter, both by Ilgauskas.
Parker had 10 of his points in the third to help the Spurs outscore the Cavs27-18 in the period.
Hedo Turkoglu’s streak of 18 straight games with a 3-pointer for San Antonio came to an end Monday. The last game he failed to make a shot behind the arc was Feb. 20 in the loss at Cleveland. … The Spurs have topped 100 points in four of their last six outings. … Mateen Cleaves signed a 10-day contract with the Cavaliers on Monday to help the team while point guard whileJeff McInnis is on the injured list. Cleaves was scoreless in 13 minutes.