|San Antonio Spurs' Tim Duncan (21) drives to the lane against Cleveland Cavaliers' Tristan Thompson (13) during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Cleveland on Tuesday, April 3, 2012. (AP Photo/Amy Sancetta)|
Spurs storm past Cavaliers 125-90
CLEVELAND—Danny 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 Cavaliers on Tuesday night.
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.
Rookie Kyrie Irving scored 13 points for the Cavs in his return after missing one game with a sprained right shoulder.
Cleveland has lost eight in a row, 11 of 12 and been outscored by 72 points in its past two home games. Antawn Jamison led the Cavs with 15 points.
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.
"It's a little bit more difficult than the normal season," Popovich said before the game of managing minutes. "We've always played our guys less than most teams, so it's a little bit more emphasis than usual."
Duncan and Parker played only 23 minutes and Manu Ginobili 18, giving the Spurs' "Big Three" a chance to get ready for Wednesday's game in Boston.
Reserve guard Patty 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, coach Byron 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 they 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.
Cleveland, on the other hand, has lost 17 of its past 21 and the Cavs are staggering toward the finish after showing some early promise.
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 quarter, 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 points during a 12-2 run by the Spurs in the third. James Anderson, who didn't play at all in the first half, closed the quarter with a 3-pointer from the right corner to put San Antonio ahead 90-63.
The final 12 minutes resembled a pickup game at the local YMCA as both coaches played their reserves.
Notes: 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.