SAN ANTONIO • San Antonio found a way to keep their National Basketball Association (NBA) home record unblemished with a 99-95 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday.
Spurs point guard Tony Parker scored 24 points, and Kawhi Leonard poured in 20, 16 after half-time, as San Antonio shrugged off a slow start by clamping down on the Cavaliers with their trademark defence.
"We just played better defence in the second half," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "(Cleveland) did the same stuff, but we just played it more aggressively and did a better job, both execution-wise and competitively."
Eighteen of Parker's points came in the first half, when every other San Antonio player struggled.
The second half belonged to Leonard, the league's reigning Defensive Player of the Year, who held Cavaliers forward LeBron James to seven points after half-time.
They are always in the right position to make the most out of every possession.''
LEBRON JAMES, on the San Antonio Spurs.
San Antonio (35-6) have won their first 23 home games of the season, the most by a Western Conference team to open the season since Portland won their first 26 at home in 1977-78. The Golden State Warriors are 18-0 at home this season.
The victory also allowed the Spurs to extend their regular-season home-victory streak to 32 games, dating back to an overtime loss to the Cavaliers last March, and granted them their best start after 41 games in franchise history.
Cleveland, who had their eight-game win streak snapped, had all five of their starters score in double figures.
James led the Cavaliers (27-10) with 22 points, while Tristan Thompson added a season-high 18 points and 14 rebounds. J.R. Smith scored 17 points, Kyrie Irving hit 16, and Kevin Love contributed 10 points and 12 rebounds.
Cleveland committed 18 turnovers that resulted in 19 points for the Spurs.
"We can't afford to give the ball away or have the amount of turnovers we had against a team that doesn't make many mistakes, especially at home," James said.
"We could have executed better, but it's tough to do against San Antonio. They are always in the right position to make the most out of every possession."
In another tightly contested affair, Toronto point guard Kyle Lowry scored 24 points and the Raptors escaped with a 106-103 overtime victory over the Orlando Magic at the O2 Arena in London.
Magic guard Victor Oladipo hit a jumper with 32.9 seconds left in regulation to tie the score at 96.
But the Raptors built a five-point edge in the extra session and held off the Magic when Nikola Vucevic's half-court shot bounced off the rim as time expired.
The thriller was the sixth NBA regular-season game to be played in London, with Premier League football stars Eden Hazard, Olivier Giroud, and Thibaut Courtois as well as celebrity chef Gordon Ramsey among the sold-out crowd.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver described the atmosphere as being like a "European All-Star Game" and hinted a future All-Star Game could be played in Europe.
"It's something we would like to figure out a way to do at some point, I think it would be a fantastic experience for everyone," he said.
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE