Every morning, we will give you five things from the night before in the NBA to start your day.
b 1: Beautiful and ugly
It takes a lot to please Gregg Popovich. That is what has made him one of the best coaches in the NBA for the better part of two decades now. So the converse is true: it does not take a lot to get him angry. Even in wins.
Why was Popovich riled up Saturday night? An awful defensive effort that enabled the Cavaliers without Kyrie irving to hang around and really test the Spurs at home. It was the kind of listless game that happens from time-to-time for a team at the top going up against a team at the bottom.
That is the exact thing Popovich would not stand for. So he ignored the solid late-game execution from Kawhi Leonard and Tim Duncan that seemed reminiscent of either Thursday's splendid performance or something from the mid-2000s.
Let's talk about some of the things that went well for San Antonio in a 119-113 win over Cleveland at AT&T Center on Saturday.
San Antonio got the ball moving and even forced Cleveland to triple team Duncan. Duncan scored 30 points and grabbed 12 rebounds to go with five blocked shots. It was his second straight turn-the-clock-back performance. All the rest Duncan may or may not have been getting seems to have worked as San Antonio continues to hold on to the best record in the Western Conference without Tony Parker.
It all seems so improbable.
Popovich's concern tonight is a valid one however. The Cavaliers attacked the basket with very little fear and moved the ball well against the Spurs. San Antonio knows defense is what will have to carry it in the postseason. Maybe the anger will spur some change.
2: Cold mountain
First there was a surprising loss in a slowed down game to the Nuggets. Next? Memphis made a late rally but ultimately fell short to the seemingly equally gritty Utah Jazz, in an important game for Utah.
Memphis continued to fight and fight and get back in the game, but Gordon Hayward's 3-pointer with about 30 seconds to go sealed a 90-84 win at Energy Solutions Arena.
The Grizzlies got a great performance from Jerryd Bayless, who had 24 points. But it was perhaps a little too good as he went into hero ball late in the game. Memphis just could not find any rhythm offensively.
For Utah, the win is obviously a big one.
The Jazz have been falling out of the Playoff picture and are neck and neck with the Lakers for the final Playoff spot. Any win they can get is a big one. And the home games are opportunities Utah cannot pass up.
The Jazz got a big win, having to grind it out to the end to ensure this critical victory.
Webster behind the head
The Jet clears Wilcox for takeoff
4: Line of the Night: Spencer Hawes — 18 points, 16 rebounds, 8 assists, 7 blocks
Yes, you read that stat line correctly. Spencer Hawes nearly had a quadruple double in Philadelphia's 98-91 win over Indiana on Saturday. The Sixers used a big run at the beginning of the fourth quarter to secure the win. Hawes did a little bit of everything. Clearly.
5: You can quote me on that
Tim Duncan saved our ass.
We know we can do this. We’ve done it against the best teams in the league at home. It’s when we go on the road; that’s where we’ve got to pick it up and play like this.