|San Antonio Spurs' Tony Parker, right, of France, shoots over Cleveland Cavaliers' Tristan Thompson during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, April 22, 2012, in San Antonio. (AP Photo/Darren Abate)|
Spurs win 7th straight, increase West lead
San Antonio (47-16) moved 1 1/2 games ahead of Oklahoma City, which lost to the Lakers earlier Sunday, in the race for the best record in the Western Conference. A victory over Portland on Monday would secure the top spot in the West for the Spurs, who own the tiebreaker over the Thunder.
Cleveland (21-42) lost for the fourth time in its last five games despite the Spurs giving Tim Duncan the night off. With the playoffs right around the corner, the 35-year-old Duncan was the only active Spur not to play.
Stephen Jackson scored 17 points for the Spurs, DeJuan Blair added 15 points and seven rebounds, and Danny Green had 14 points. Antawn Jamison led Cleveland with 21 points, Kyrie Irving had 19, and Manny Harris added 14.
Besides limiting Duncan's minutes this season, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich has given his star forward six nights off to rest. Thanks to another easy victory, their other veterans didn't play too much.
Ginobili and Tony Parker each played just 22 minutes. The Spurs entered the game having won four straight games by at least 21 points. During that span, Ginobili has played 30 or more minutes only one time, and Parker has done so just twice.
Parker had six points and nine assists for the Spurs, who swept the season series. San Antonio won at Cleveland 125-90 on April 3 in a performance that left Cavaliers coach Byron Scott wondering if his team had already thrown in the towel. Since then, the team has impressed Scott with its attitude despite going only 4-8.
"I think we've responded very well," Scott said before the game. "We've been very competitive. The guys have been playing extremely hard the last week and a half of the season. It was pretty much after that game . ever since then, we've battled pretty hard"
The Spurs led only 52-44 at halftime behind 11 points from Green, but the starting forward left the game in the second quarter after a flagrant foul by Harris. Green was hit in the left eye by Harris while going up for a layup with 5:35 left in the second quarter. Green stayed on the ground for several minutes before getting up to hit one of two free throws. He then left for the locker room for the rest of the quarter before returning for the second half.
Matt Bonner was the only Spurs player to play and not score in the first half. San Antonio led by as many as 16 points in the second quarter before Cleveland went on a 12-2 run late in the quarter to narrow the deficit.
After Cleveland cut it to 91-81 early in the final quarter, San Antonio went on an 11-1 run to put away the game.
Notes: Spurs F Boris Diaw started for Duncan and had six points on 3-of-7 shooting. . Scott ranked third-lowest in a poll of players when asked which coach they would most like to play for, finishing ahead of Orlando's Stan Van Gundy and last-place Scott Skiles of Milwaukee. "The thing I know about both those guys is they're pretty demanding guys," Scott said. "So if that's the case, and I'm put in that category as being a very demanding coach, I don't mind that. You've got a lot of guys that want you to kiss their butts. I'm not doing that. That ain't happening. And I'm not going to tell them all the time what they want to hear." Popovich ranked third-highest.