Created on Thursday, 14 February 2013 Written by THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
CLEVELAND (AP) — The San Antonio Spurs had all of their stars together for the first time in a month — and the game-winning shot still came from a role player.
Kawhi Leonard made a 3-pointer with 2.9 seconds remaining to give San Antonio a 96-95 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday night.
The Spurs, who have won 14 of 15, had Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili on the floor together for the first time since Jan. 13, but it was Leonard who saved the day.
"It was tough situation and we won it," Ginobili said.
Leonard's clutch basket from the right corner off Parker's assist came after Dion Waiters' jump shot with 9.5 seconds remaining put Cleveland ahead 95-93.
San Antonio called timeout after Waiters' shot. The Cavaliers had a foul to give and grabbed Duncan with 8.8 seconds remaining. The ensuing inbounds pass went to Parker, who drove into the lane and found a wide-open Leonard in the right corner. Leonard drilled the shot, giving the Spurs a two-point lead.
"We practiced that 1,000 times so I knew we'd be able to execute it," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "If Tony had the open layup, he would've have gotten the layup. That was his alternative."
"I thought I had the layup, but I saw Kawhi open," said Parker, who led the Spurs with 24 points. "I wasn't only playing for the win, but I'd been setting up my teammates all night."
"One thing we didn't want to give up at the end of the game was a 3," Cleveland coach Byron Scott said. "That's the one thing we talked about in the huddle. Don't give up a three, and we gave up a three."
Kyrie Irving, who was held to a season-low six points, missed a desperation runner from the top of the key as time expired. Cleveland called timeout and inbounded the ball to Irving, who drove inside the 3-point line. Parker's tight defense forced the Cavaliers' All-Star guard to put up a tough shot, which hit the off the rim and fell off.
"(Parker) cut me off with my left hand, I tried to spin, my body never I lost my balance," said Irving, who has hit game-winning shots against Charlotte and Toronto this season.
Irving, who rolled his left ankle Monday against Minnesota, was 2 of 15 from the field with seven assists.
"This was probably one of the worst shooting nights I've ever had," Irving said. "I was trying to get myself going and I just couldn't. But that's no excuse. I was trying to get everybody else involved, trying to push the pace. I just didn't have anything."
Gary Neal scored 15 points while Leonard, who left the locker room without speaking to reporters, scored 13 points with 10 rebounds. Leonard sustained a cut above his right eye in the third quarter and left briefly. He returned wearing a bandage above the eye.
Duncan, who had missed eight of the last nine games with a sore left knee, scored 13 points in 25 minutes.
"My rhythm wasn't there, but just to be running up and down the court instead of wearing a suit was awesome," he said.
Parker, who didn't play Monday because of swelling in his right knee, was 8 of 14 from the field, and had seven assists in 34 minutes. Ginobili, who had missed nine of the last 13 games with a tight left hamstring, had five points in nine minutes off the bench. He didn't play in the second half because of precautionary reasons.
Waiters scored 20 points to lead Cleveland, which has dropped three straight after winning a season-high three in a row. Tyler Zeller, who was scoreless in 25 minutes Monday, had 16 points, including 12 in the first half.
Cleveland, playing its sixth straight home game, was coming off its worst loss of the season Monday to Minnesota, a 100-92 loss.
Cleveland looked like a different team against the club with the best record in the NBA in the final game before the All-Star break for both games. The Cavaliers built a 10-point lead in the second quarter and were ahead 54-46 at halftime.
Spurs swingman Stephen Jackson missed his second straight game because of personal reasons.
NOTES: San Antonio C Tiago Splitter started after twisting his ankle against Chicago on Monday. He scored six points with seven rebounds in 27 minutes. ... The Spurs are 4-1 on their annual nine-game, 19-day rodeo road trip. ... San Antonio visits Sacramento on Tuesday. ... The Cavaliers are 3-3 on their seven-game homestand. ... Cleveland is 9-16 this season at Quicken Loans Arena. ... The Cavaliers host New Orleans on Wednesday.