Spurs searching for answers as they host surging Cavs

NBA Basketball

The San Antonio Spurs will look to end a four-game losing streak when they host the surging Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday night.

The Spurs play the second of a seven-game homestand after losing 128-124 to Houston on Wednesday. The setback wasted a dominating effort from San Antonio’s Dejounte Murray, who had a 32-point, 11-assist, 10-rebound triple-double.

Murray is the first player in the NBA this season — and just the eighth since 1987 — to produce a 30-point triple-double with zero turnovers in a game.

Bryn Forbes added 21 points, Keldon Johnson had 18, Jakob Poeltl hit for 13 points, Devin Vassell tallied 12 and Keita Bates-Diop and Lonnie Walker IV racked up 11 points apiece for San Antonio. The Spurs took the lead in the second quarter and were ahead by as many as nine points in the third before Houston rallied.

“They don’t lack for effort,” San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said of his team. “They hang in there. We are making a lot of mistakes, but every team makes mistakes. We just can’t afford to make as many in our situation.

“We have to be more purposeful, we have to execute better, we have to have better decisions, but we can’t start out following people around and being soft in the first quarters, and that really put us in the hole. And (Dejounte Murray) was amazing.”

The Spurs, who lost for the eighth time in nine games, were without starters Derrick White and Doug McDermott because of the NBA’s COVID-19 protocol. Both will be game-time decisions for the dustup with Cleveland on Friday.

The Cavaliers hit San Antonio on a roll, with their latest game a 111-91 victory on the road at short-handed Utah on Wednesday. Lamar Stevens poured in a career-best 23 points, 15 in the pivotal third quarter, and Darius Garland recorded his first career triple-double (11 points, 15 assists and 10 rebounds).

Lauri Markkanen pitched in 20 points, Kevin Love scored 16, Evan Mobley finished with 15 points and 10 rebounds, and Jarrett Allen had 12 points for Cleveland, whose 20-point win marked its biggest margin of victory ever in Salt Lake City.

The Cavaliers have won two straight and three of their first four games of a six-game road trip.

“We didn’t change,” Cavaliers coach JB Bickerstaff said. “That’s the most important thing. We didn’t start messing with the game. We took all 48 minutes of it seriously.”

Stevens, who set a career high for the second time in three games, scored Cleveland’s first 13 points in the third and ended up with one fewer point in the quarter than Utah produced as a team. The Jazz went almost five and a half minutes without scoring during the third period.

“I got lost in the moment,” Stevens explained. “I was able to pick and choose my spots. I just felt really confident, and I was just riding that confidence and allowing my game to just take me to those 15 points.”

The Spurs own a 65-34 all-time edge on Cleveland, including a 40-9 mark in games played in the Alamo City. The Cavaliers have won their past two road games against San Antonio.

–Field Level Media

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