Gregg Popovich receives a lot of credit for his coaching style and technique, and deservedly so. There's something to be said when the San Antonio Spurs can win convincingly even without their star players.
The Spurs have proven they are one of the deepest teams in the league and get back to work on a rodeo road trip Wednesday against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
With Tim Duncan sidelined for nine of the last 11 games with a sore left knee, Tony Parker out with the same issue and Manu Ginobili nursing a hamstring ailment, the Spurs rolled to a 103-89 win at Chicago on Monday night. Kawhi Leonard led the way with a career-high 26 points and Danny Green posted 18.
Tiago Splitter and Gary Neal scored 16 points apiece in the win, San Antonio's second straight since having an 11-game win streak cut short in a loss at Detroit last Friday.
"One would hope you could play with anybody in the system. But it was a great challenge," Popovich said.
The Spurs are 3-1 on a nine-game road trip and 19-10 away from the Alamo City. They still have the Kings, Clippers, Warriors and Suns left on the jaunt.
On the injury front for the Spurs, Duncan, Ginobili, Parker and Stephen Jackson (personal) are all questionable against the Cavs. Splitter is probable due to a sprained left ankle. The Spurs could use a lift with the possible return of Parker, who's averaging 27.2 points and 8.8 assists in the past six.
San Antonio is fourth in scoring with 104.34 ppg and eighth in points allowed (95.8 ppg).
Cleveland has stumbled a bit on its seven-game homestand, having lost two straight since winning three in a row and six of eight games.
The Cavaliers are 3-2 on the stand and suffered a 100-92 loss to Minnesota the previous time out on Monday night. Kyrie Irving scored 20 points to go with seven assists and Tristan Thompson chipped in 16 points and nine rebounds for the Cavs, who got 12 points from rookie Dion Waiters.
"It was just a (very)-poor effort by us from the start," Cavs forward C.J. Miles said. "It didn't look like we were interested. Minnesota made some tough shots -- don't take anything away from their guys -- but for the most part, we gave this game to them."
On a positive note, Cleveland did have a 48-34 advantage in the paint and converted 22 Minnesota turnovers into a season-high 34 points. Marreese Speights recorded 10 points off the bench and has notched at least 10 points and five rebounds in each of his first seven games with the Cavs, breaking previous records of five games by Shawn Kemp (1997) and Darius Miles (2002).
Cleveland is 6-3 in its last nine at Quicken Loans Arena, where it is averaging 105.9 ppg in that time and owns a 9-15 record this season. It has scored at least 100 points in four of the five games on this homestand and will wrap up the residency next Wednesday versus New Orleans.
In injury news for the Cavs, Irving is questionable Wednesday with a sprained left ankle and is averaging 25.3 ppg since Jan. 4 (19 games).
The Cavaliers and Spurs are meeting for the first time since San Antonio took both matchups a season ago. The Spurs have won five straight in this series and two in a row at the Q.
The Sports Network