LOS ANGELES: The San Antonio Spurs wore down the Cleveland Cavaliers 99-95 in an NBA heavyweight showdown on Thursday (Friday in Manila) and remained unbeaten at home—as did the reigning champion Golden State Warriors.
One night after enduring just their third defeat of the season, at Denver, the Warriors bounced back on their home floor in Oakland with a 116-98 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers.
Stephen Curry poured in eight three-pointers en route to 26 points, but it was aging Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant who drew the spotlight in his likely last appearance at Oracle Arena.
Bryant, battling a sore Achilles tendon, scored just eight points but departed to a standing ovation from Oakland spectators who don’t expect to see him again before he retires at the end of the season.
They had the luxury of enjoying this stop of his farewell tour, since Bryant’s Lakers never seriously threatened to halt Golden State’s home winning streak, which now includes 19 games this season and 37 overall dating back to last year.
San Antonio’s streak of dominance at home is almost as impressive. They improved to 23-0 at home in this campaign and have won 32 straight at the AT&T Center dating back to March 12 last year — when they fell in overtime to the Cavaliers.
Point guard Tony Parker scored 18 of his 24 points in the first half, helping the Spurs stay afloat in the face of a strong Cleveland start.
Kawhi Leonard took over after the interval, scoring 16 of his 20 points in the second half and also holding Cleveland superstar LeBron James to seven points after halftime.
“Kawhi made LeBron work for everything he had,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “It was a heck of a win because we gave away the first quarter.”
Cleveland, who fell to 27-10, saw their eight-game winning streak snapped despite having all five starters score in double figures.
That started with 23 points from James, with center Tristan Thompson adding a season-high 18 points and 13 rebounds.
Cleveland opened the game with a 10-2 scoring run and led 32-20 after the first quarter.
They were up 50-44 at halftime, with the Spurs finally taking the lead for the first time, 57-55, with 7:50 left in the third when Leonard capped an 11-0 run with a three-pointer.
From there it was a back-and-forth battle until the Spurs seized the lead for good less than two minutes into the final period.
“We stopped moving the ball, but their defense had a lot to do with that,” Cavaliers coach David Blatt said.
Butler’s 53 drives Bulls
Chicago’s Jimmy Butler scored a career-high 53 points to spearhead the Bulls’ 115-111 come-from-behind overtime triumph over the 76ers in Philadelphia.
Butler connected on 15 of 30 shots from the floor and 21 of 25 from the free-throw line. He also pulled down 10 rebounds and handed out six assists for a Chicago team without center Pau Gasol and guard Derrick Rose.
The Bulls, who trailed by 24 points in the second quarter, snapped a three-game losing streak and denied the woeful 76ers a rare victory.
Butler is the fourth player in Bulls history to score more than 50 points in a game, after the legendary Michael Jordan, Jamal Crawford and Chet Walker.