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Spurs 96, Cavaliers 95

The SportsXchange

CLEVELAND -- Forward Kawhi Leonard's 3-pointer with 2.9 seconds left lifted the San Antonio Spurs to a 96-95 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday at Quicken Loans Arena.

The Cavaliers had taken a 95-94 lead with 9.9 seconds remaining on guard Dion Waiters' 20-foot, step-back jumper.

Cleveland had a chance to win with a last-second shot, but guard Kyrie Irving slipped, got up and fired up a wild shot at the buzzer. It had no chance to go in.

Irving, selected to his first All-Star Game this weekend, suffered through a horrible shooting night. He made 2-of-15 shots for a season-low six points. He added three rebounds and seven assists and played with five personal fouls for most of the fourth quarter.

Point guard Tony Parker paced the Spurs (42-12) with a game-high 24 points, six rebounds and seven assists.

The Spurs, who head into the All-Star break having won 14 of their last 15 games, had five players in double figures. Guard Gary Neal added 15 points, while Leonard and Tim Duncan each had 13. Leonard had a game-high 10 rebounds.

The Spurs shot 45.2 percent from the field, while the Cavs shot 41.2 percent.

The Cavaliers' two first-round picks in the 2012 draft, center Tyler Zeller and shooting guard Dion Waiters, combined for 36 points.

Waiters had a team-high 20 points, six rebounds and four assists. The 7-foot Zeller had 16 points, a team-high nine rebounds and four assists.

The Cavaliers (16-37) head into the All-Star break riding a three-game losing streak. The Spurs, who have the best record in the NBA, have won three in a row.

Cleveland won the battle of the boards, 48-44.

The Spurs held a 74-73 edge after three quarters after Parker had 12 points in the third quarter. Parker had outscored Irving, 20-4, after three quarters.

Waiters had 10 points in the third, driving hard to the basket.

The Spurs scored eight unanswered points to start the second half. They knotted the score, 54-54 on Duncan's layup with nine minutes left in the third quarter.

The Cavs opened up an eight-point lead at halftime, 54-46. Their biggest surprise was the play of Zeller, who led all scorers with 12 points and had three rebounds in the first half.

Zeller hadn't scored in double figures since the Golden State game on Jan. 29, a span of seven games. He's been in double figures once in the last 10 games. He made 5-of-7 from the field and dished out three assists in the first half.

Waiters continued his hot shooting, making 4-of- shots in the first half. He was perfect on six shots in he Minnesota game on Monday. Waiters also had five rebounds and three assists in the first half.

The Cavs shot 52 percent in the first half, compared to 51 percent by the Spurs.

Forward/center DeJuan Blair had a team-high 10 points for the Spurs in the first half and Parker added eight points and two assists.

The Cavaliers sped out to a 32-25 advantage after the first quarter.

NOTES: While watching the Cavaliers on video in preparation for last Saturday's game, Denver coach George Karl noticed that their second team played so confidently, it was almost "cocky." Cavs forward Luke Walton certainly didn't disagree with Karl's assessment. "We take a lot of pride in playing a certain style of basketball," Walton said. "We're loud and vocal. We play a certain way, even though it's for short minutes. Coming off the bench, you don't know how long you'll be out there. It's our job to push the first unit and pick up the level of competition. We like to yap. We like to talk a little trash and get the intensity going." The second team has been buoyed by the additions of center Marreese Speights, shooting guard Wayne Ellington and point guard Shaun Livingston. ... Cavs power forward Tristan Thompson couldn't wait to face the Spurs' Tim Duncan. "First of all, he and Tim are close," Scott said. "That's a big step going against TD. If he's not the best power forward to play the game, he's one of the best. It's a good measuring stick. You want to see where you stand." ... For some reason, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich has taken a shine to Scott through the years. "He called me to come down (to San Antonio) to join him for wine," Scott said. "I've always appreciated Pop. He'll go down as one of the best." Scott loves how Popovich holds everyone accountable on the team, even the superstars like Duncan. "He'll cuss out the first player or the 12th player," Scott said. "I've seen him go off on guys on the sideline." ... Spurs swingman Stephen Jackson (personal reasons) is not with the team.
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