LeBron James’ first meeting with San Antonio this season stood in stylistic contrast to the precise and one-sided 2014 Finals, but it still ended in defeat.
A choppy, lax contest between the Cavaliers and Spurs came down to the final seconds, with the defending champs using a 7-3 closing push to sneak out a 92-90 road win. James, who was limited to just two fourth-quarter points, allowed the game to escape in the final moments. There was James seeking to push the tempo in search of a game-tying or game-winning basket. Manu Ginobili and Tim Duncan shadowed his every move until the ball kicked free before James ever had a chance to make the play.
The loss wasn’t lopsided or humiliating, even with his late-game miscue, but it had to feel a bit familiar to James. Kawhi Leonard (12 points, 10 rebounds, four steals) made him work from tip to buzzer, and James shot just 6-for-17 while committing five turnovers. Boris Diaw (19 points, seven assists, six rebounds) played the role of crucial X-factor and match-up nightmare. Duncan scored with relative ease inside against frontline defenders who aren’t really equipped to handle him. San Antonio’s depth advantage played out as expected, even though Tiago Splitter, Patty Mills, Marc Bellineli and Matt Bonner all sat out due to injuries or illness.
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