Spurs to celebrate Ginobili, Cavaliers look to spoil fun
The San Antonio Spurs' push up the standings for playoff position will be put on the back burner on Thursday when the team retires the jersey and number of former standout guard Manu Ginobili after it hosts the Cleveland Cavaliers.
There would have been a little bit more for the Spurs to celebrate had they taken care of business on Tuesday, but they lost on the road to surging Charlotte 125-116 in overtime despite 30 points from DeMar DeRozan and 20 points and 15 rebounds by LaMarcus Aldridge.
Bryn Forbes added 16 points for the Spurs in the loss, while reserves Marco Belinelli and Rudy Gay hit for 17 and 16 points, respectively, and Belinelli took 10 rebounds.
"We've had this problem before -- on the road we just don't play the same defense," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said after the loss. "We are not consistent. When a team scores 120 points against us on the road it's going to be hard for us to win that game."
The loss, just San Antonio's third in its past 13 games, cost the Spurs the chance to jump past Oklahoma City for the seventh-best record in the Western Conference.
The Spurs (43-32) hold down the eighth and final playoff position in the West, and are 5 1/2 games up on ninth-place Sacramento with seven games to play.
Ginobili will be the ninth player in franchise history to have his number retired, with those of Tim Duncan, David Robinson, George Gervin, Sean Elliott, Avery Johnson, Bruce Bowen, James Silas and Johnny Moore already hanging in the rafters of the AT&T Center.
Charlotte reserve guard Tony Parker, who played with Ginobili for 16 years of his 18-year career, was on the Spurs' team plane back to the Alamo City on Tuesday night to be a part of the ceremony for Ginobili.
"It's going to be very nostalgic," Parker told the San Antonio Express-News. "It will put everything in perspective. You'll start realizing everything we accomplished in this league. It will be emotional. It's going to be an honor to speak. I expect it will be a great night."
Ginobili played all 16 of his NBA seasons with the Spurs and captured four league titles as part of San Antonio's Big Three (along with Duncan and Parker).
San Antonio can't afford to be distracted and take the Cavaliers lightly, even with Cleveland's woeful 19-56 record and its three consecutive losses.
The Cavaliers' latest setback came on Tuesday at home to Boston 116-106. Cleveland pushed the Celtics until the game's final minute but were doomed by a 24-14 run by Boston.
"Our guys were fighting," Cleveland coach Larry Drew said about the loss to the Celtics. "We were right there and it didn't get away from us until that fourth quarter. Against a good team you have to take care of the basketball and the shot selections have to be the shots that you want and it was just one of those situations where we just couldn't get over the hump."
Collin Sexton led Cleveland with 24 points in the loss, with Jordan Clarkson scoring 18, Cedi Osman hitting for 15 points and Larry Nance Jr. scoring 13 points.
Kevin Love added 10 points and 11 rebounds for the Cavaliers but was just 3 of 13 from the floor.
"Outside of myself we had a lot of guys who stepped up and played extremely hard and extremely well, and put us right there for a chance to win," Love told the (Cleveland) Plain Dealer after Tuesday's loss. "If I was worth a (expletive) tonight we might have won."
Tristan Thompson made his first start for Cleveland on Tuesday since Jan. 16. He recently returned after missing 26 games because of foot soreness.
--Field Level Media
Updated March 27, 2019