The Cavaliers were getting killed by Manu Ginobili all night long, but the Argentinian sharpshooter came up inches short when it counted the most, as the Cavaliers defeated the San Antonio Spurs 97-95.
With 14 seconds to play and Cleveland leading by three points, Ginobili stepped behind the three point line and buried the shot, seemingly tying the game up. However, the officiating crew called for an immediate review, and replays showed that Manu's toe was on the line. The shot was declared a two-pointer and the Cavs maintained a one-point lead. Free throws down the stretch finished the job as the Cavs won their 50th game of the season.
The Cavs won the game without their top three scorers against a veteran squad. LeBron James sat out the game, resting up. Shaquille O'Neal is still out with his thumb injury. And in the second quarter, Antawn Jamison went to the locker room with tightness in his leg and sat out the rest of the game.
Mo Williams picked up the slack that he failed to do Saturday night, as the PG atoned for his horrible game against Milwaukee. Mo apologized via Twitter after that 3-14 shooting performance, and he lived up to his apology, burying 17 points to go with his 8 rebounds and 8 assists.
Five other Cavs scored double-digits, led by Jamison (17). Delonte West added 16, Jawad Williams 13, J.J. Hickson 12, and Anderson Varejao 11.
San Antonio was mostly carried by Ginobili (38 points) and George Hill, who added 23. San Antonio hit 10 3-pointers on the night, but missed their last four long-range jumpers as time ran out on them.
Cleveland now has a 5.5 game lead on Orlando for the eastern Conference lead, and a 3.5 game lead on L.A. for the NBA's best record. Home court advantage seems to be locked up at this point.
The Cavaliers needed a fast start, and it looked like they would be denied, as Manu Ginobili was on fire from the get-go. Ginobili scored 10 of the Spurs first 12 points and was virtually unguardable while he was on the floor. However, an 11-2 run sparked by Mo Williams brought the Cavs back into the game.
The Cavs used their speed and 63 percent shooting in the quarter to build a six-point lead late in the quarter, and led 28-26 after the period. A balanced attack didn't hurt either, as six different Cavaliers made it into the scoring column.
Throughout the second quarter, the game was a back-and-forth battle. Ginobili finished the half with 23 points on 7-11 shooting, including 4 of 5 from long range. Neither team led by more than six points, and halftime began with a three-point San Antonio lead, 52-49.
Mo Williams kept his strong performance going in the third quarter, and he was joined by Jawad Williams. Jawad Williams scored 8 straight points during a two-minute stretch, but they couldn't quite retake the lead. Occasional cold shooting by the Cavs allowed the Spurs to keep the game at arms' length, as San Antonio led by four at the start of the fourth quarter, 76-72
In the fourth quarter, the game had the feel as if it would maintain the back-and-forth-but-the-Spurs-stay-on-top aura to it. Mo Willaims and West's energy would have none of that. Time and time again, the duo made the plays necessary to overcome San Antonio's distance shooting.
With 52 seconds to play, West anticipated a pass to Ginobili on the right wing and cut off the passing lane for a key turnover. That play, along with the reviewed three-pointer, was the play of the night.
The Cavs have three nights off to rest the wounded, before taking on Philadelphia Friday night. LeBron is expected to start that game.