SAN ANTONIO — Darius Garland scored 32 points and the Cleveland Cavaliers beat San Antonio 114-109 on Friday night, extending the Spurs losing streak to five.
Cleveland held San Antonio scoreless for five minutes from 6:05 left in the fourth and edged the Spurs 30-23 in the quarter.
“We knew we mostly had to get saves. That was the main thing,” Garland said. “If we had saves we knew we were going to at least get a good shot or score. As long as we got the stops in the stretch, we were confident in our offense.
Jarrett Allen finished with 17 points and 16 rebounds for Cleveland, which won its third straight and fourth in five games.
Dejounte Murray had 30 points, 14 rebounds and eight assists for San Antonio, going 1-7 in the new year. Keldon Johnson added 18 points and Bryn Forbes had 15.
The Spurs struggled against Cleveland’s frontcourt of 7-footers Evan Mobley and Lauri Markkanen, and the 6-11 Allen.
Mobley added 15 points and Markkanen had eight.
The trio also helped thwart Spurs center Jakob Poeltl, who went goalless from just four field goal attempts and no free throws.
Cleveland shot 53% from the field in the first half, with a pair of alley-oop dunks to Mobley and Allen. The Cavaliers finished with four alley-oop dunks. Allen threw the last with 1:53 remaining to give the Cavs a 108-103 second lead after Markkanen stuffed a one-handed dunk on Poeltl.
“There’s a connection in our group where they talk to each other, they hold each other accountable,” Cleveland coach JB Bickerstaff said. “They have a collective spirit to want to do it. When you have that, there is no fracture, there is no separation. Everyone comes together and they go out and compete and try to get the job done. I think they did a great job in that regard.
The Cavaliers had a 20-point advantage scoring 60 points in the paint. Spurs tried to keep up the pace by going 15 for 34 from 3-pointers but couldn’t hold a lead in the third quarter.
“They’re doing their best, we just have to do better,” Spurs manager Gregg Popovich said. “We need to have less turnover. We need to have better blocks and not give up so many offensive boards. Good decisions on shots, finding the best player at 3.
“There are a lot of things we can improve on but we have to be patient to a certain extent because the combinations we have, they’ve hardly ever played together and some of them are quite young. It’s going to take They’re picking up their pieces now, but Cleveland is one hell of a team.
San Antonio was on a 15-6 run in the final 5 ½ minutes of the period to take its biggest lead before Cedi Osman drained a 3-pointer at the buzzer to pull Cleveland 86-84.
“Those who are injured,” Allen said. “These did a lot more harm than it shows on the scoreboard. It’s just deflated. You make a big run like they did and then here I’m pretty sure Evan made the pass to Cedi and it was a swish. We felt that the crowd was deflated. You saw the Spurs heading to the bench. It’s hard when you have that momentum and it stops like that.
Cavaliers: Point guard Rajon Rondo missed his second straight game with right hamstring pain. Bickerstaff did not have an update on Rondo’s return. … Isaac Okoro had six points in 16 minutes in his return after missing five games with a sprained left elbow. … Cleveland is 14-9 on the road after going 9-27 last season.
Spurs: Derrick White and Tre Jones remain under league health and safety protocols due to COVID-19. Popovich said he doesn’t know when either will return. … Murray leads San Antonio in points, assists and steals, and is second in rebounds. He entered the game averaging 18.8 points, 8.2 rebounds, 8.9 assists and 2.1 steals. … Drew Eubanks missed the game with an unspecified illness, which was not COVID-19. Eubanks was in uniform, sitting with the team on the bench.
Popovich praised Cavaliers forward Kevin Love for putting U.S. Olympic basketball ahead in Tokyo last summer.
Love wasn’t fully healthy with a right calf injury that sidelined him for much of last season. So Love voluntarily gave up her spot on Team USA after spending 10 days preparing for the Olympics.
“He was in a very difficult situation,” Popovich said. “He did everything he could to be ready to go physically, but he got a bad hand. Everything was so compressed. The NBA (season) lasted so long and the Olympics started faster. So, there wasn’t as much time as I think he thought he had to get back to where he wanted to be. But he wanted it badly. He worked his pussy every day to get that medal. At one point , he realized that there wouldn’t be enough time to do it. And then what he did was incredibly impressive to me. I thought it took a lot of courage.
Cavaliers: At Oklahoma City on Saturday.
Spurs: Host the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday.