97 - 86 Final
  for this game

James, Cavs rout shorthanded Spurs

Feb 28, 2009 - 7:10 AM SAN ANTONIO (Ticker) -- For once, LeBron James was happy that the Cleveland Cavaliers were scheduled for road games on consecutive days.

James had 30 points and 14 rebounds as the Cleveland Cavaliers blew past a very shorthanded San Antonio Spurs club, 97-86, on Friday.

James scored 15 of his points in the first quarter and did not play after the third quarter as Cleveland bounced back from a tough, 93-74, loss at Houston on Thursday that included a serious leg injury to Ben Wallace.

Yet, getting right back on the court proved to be the right medicine for James and his teammates.

"That's the beauty of the NBA," said James, whose team improved to 19-11 on the road. "You can play as bad as you have ever played one night, and the NBA schedule allows you to make up for it the next night. That's what we did."

Delonte West added 17 points for the Cavaliers, who went on a 15-4 run to end the third and build a 77-56 cushion.

It was pretty much garbage time from there on out, a surprising situation considering that Cleveland came into the game with a 5-31 all-time record here, its lowest winning percentage of any road site.

However, the Cavaliers did have more than enough room for error as the Spurs once again played without Tim Duncan (thigh) and Manu Ginobili (ankle).

"We came out aggressive. If there's one thing you have to do in San Antonio, its execute, offensively and defensively," James said. "They are a well-coached team and they are good players. No matter who is on the court for them you have to be able to execute. We did that tonight."

That fact was clearly evident from the start, as Cleveland raced out to a 21-8 lead behind a 13-0 run. James scored 11 points in that span, including a thunderous fast-break dunk that sent San Antonio's Tony Parker running in the other direction.

James took nine shots in the opening quarter, connecting on six.

"It was good to see LeBron more aggressive after last night," Cleveland coach Mike Brown said. "In the game against the Rockets, everyone on our team had their shots but they weren't going in. Tonight, we got some good looks and we had to take them."

Meanwhile, it ended up being a very disastrous start for the Spurs, who managed just 13 points in the first quarter on 5-of-17 shooting.

Yet, San Antonio, which entered Friday with a 20-7 record at home, did fight back in the second quarter, closing within 38-34 on a free throw by Parker with 2:28 remaining.

However, the burden proved too big for the shorthanded Spurs, who ended up shooting 42 percent (33-of-79) in mustering their second-lowest point total in their last 14 games.

It did not help that James added 11 of his points in the third before getting some extended rest. The 24-year-old finished 12-of-23 from the field and handed out four assists, collected two steals and blocked a pair of shots.

"We started out with a poor first quarter," Popovich said. "It was a bad combination of poor shooting, turnovers and getting beat on the boards. After that, I was thrilled with the way we dug ourselves out. But LeBron took it away with those threes."

Parker was one of four players to score 11 points for San Antonio despite going 3-of-16 from the field.

Michael Finley, rookie Malik Hairston and Pops Mensah-Bonsu also scored 11 points for the Spurs, who had a four-game winning streak snapped.

Missing his third straight game with right quadriceps tendinitis, Duncan had been a game-time decision, but Popovich decided to be cautious despite facing one of the league's top teams.

"He thinks he's ready. The trainers think he's ready, but if I'm going to err, I'm going to err on the side of caution," Popovich said. "Tim doesn't stand down much and, when he said he couldn't go on Tuesday, that says something to me.

"That was only four days ago. Resting him makes me more comfortable."