Cavs look to build off big win as Spurs visit

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The Cleveland Cavaliers will be looking to build on one their best performances of the season while also trying to bury San Antonio’s playoff hopes when they host the Spurs on Sunday at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse.

The Cavaliers (18-45) play the second game of a back-to-back after beating Denver 104-102 in Cleveland on Saturday to snap a four-game losing streak. Cleveland heads into Sunday’s matchup with the worst record in the Eastern Conference.

Kevin Love led the Cavaliers with 27 points in the win, while Collin Sexton added 25 points, Cedi Osman had 20 points, Tristan Thompson took in 13 rebounds and Matthew Dellavedova dished out 14 assists for Cleveland.

Sexton’s big game on Saturday came after he scored a career-high of 41 points Wednesday night in a 112-106 loss to Boston.

“He just continues to have so much confidence on (the offensive) end,” Love told reporters about Sexton. “I think things are slowing down for him as well. He continues to get better, and he’s a guy that nobody is going to outwork. I think you’ve continued to see that through this year, and (he) just continues to get better.”

Sexton said he’s enjoying being the Cavaliers’ energy leader on the court.

“I’ve been able to control the flow of the game, not for myself but only for my teammates, so it feels good,” Sexton said. “I enjoy being at the point position and just orchestrating a team or just being a vocal leader out there, because the guys feed off my energy.”

Andre Drummond (strained left calf) and Darius Garland (strained left groin) each missed their third straight game for the Cavaliers.

The Spurs head to Cleveland after laying an egg in a 139-120 loss in Brooklyn on Friday. San Antonio trailed by as many as 33 points in the first half and never got closer than 15 over the final two periods, losing for the fourth time in six games.

DeMar DeRozan led the Spurs with 24 points on 10-of-13 shooting. Trey Lyles and Derrick White added 19 each, Rudy Gay had 15 points, and Keldon Johnson scored 13 for San Antonio, which is 4 1/2 games out of a playoff spot in the Western Conference.

Brooklyn scored 41 points in the first quarter, its season high for the opening quarter, then added 45 points in the third, the most allowed by the Spurs in a quarter this season.

“Our defense was embarrassing — soft,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said after the game. “Our starting group is really soft defensively. And that’s pretty much been tough, most of the year.

“So if another team starts out and helps us by not making shots or whatever, then the defense doesn’t look as bad. But if they come out in scoring the way that the Nets did tonight, that’s when you see the hole we get into. We get into that hole quite often.”

The Spurs were without center LaMarcus Aldridge, who missed his fifth game in a row with a sore shoulder, and backup center Jakob Poeltl (right knee strain).

Cleveland beat the Spurs 117-109 in overtime on Dec. 12 in the teams’ first matchup this season. San Antonio still owns a 64-32 all-time edge on the Cavaliers, but the series is tied at 24-24 in games played in Cleveland.

–Field Level Media

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