SAN ANTONIO — The Cleveland Cavaliers learned a valuable lesson Friday night as they beat the San Antonio Spurs on the road, 114-109. While the Spurs are a struggling team that entered the game with a 15-26 record, it was the manner in which the Cavs won that made it so important.
One of the focuses of the Cavs this season is learning how to close out games and get a victory. For reference of how close the game Friday was, it was a one-possession game with five seconds left on the clock.
Head coach J.B. Bickerstaff has previously said that the team is still learning how to play disciplined, purposed basketball and maintain a lead, like successful, dominant teams do. While the Cavs certainly have shown their ability to play hard through an entire contest, Friday's game was a nice lesson in consistency for the team, led in part by Darius Garland.
Garland put up 32 points, eight assists four rebounds a block and a steal—following up his last game on Wednesday where he recorded his first career triple-double with another impressive outing.
"It was just play after play that he made, the courage to keep the ball in his hand and to go seek the ball out and go make that play," Bickerstaff said of Garland. "We've got absolute trust in him and his job is to go finish for us."
Also helping the Cavs offensively was Jarrett Allen, who put up 17 points with 16 rebounds as well as Evan Mobley with 15 points and six rebounds. Cedi Osman assisted off the bench with 14 points of his own.
While the Cavs had success offensively for much of the game (aside from the free throw shooting, which was a dismal 14-24), down the stretch things got dicey.
"I thought there were things we could have done better offensively down that stretch," Bickerstaff said, but added that the guys stepped up on defense in a big way, helping to seal the win.
Allen said the team is getting back to their strengths—like getting stops and protecting the rim—and taking away lessons from each game they play in order to make them stronger as the season goes on.
"Every single game there is a certain learning experience we can take away from the game," Allen said. "We're taking things from games where we need to learn something and applying it to our next one."
The Cavs have now won four of their five road games on their current trip with one game left against the Thunder on the schedule before returning home. Cavs tip off in Oklahoma City at 8 p.m. Saturday.
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