Photo: Scott Shaw/The Plain Dealer
The odds looked long with Shaquille O'Neal and LeBron James out from the start and Antawn Jamison leaving after the third quarter due to injury, but the Cavalier backcourt of Delonte West and Mo Williams willed the team to its gutsiest victory of the season over the Tony Parker-less Spurs. It was a team effort led by timely fourth quarter defense and balanced scoring, and they needed every ounce of it to survive Manu Ginobili's 38 point effort. The Cavaliers with the win have now won at least 50 games in four of their last five seasons, and the win keeps them three games ahead of the Lakers for the best record in the NBA.
Lack of star power: This one was far from your classic Cavs-Spurs matchup. Besides LeBron James and Shaq being out of commission for the wine and gold, the Spurs are just beginning life without Tony Parker for about six weeks, after Parker broke a bone in his right hand. As a result, Manu Ginobili was in the starting lineup for just the second time this season. Also, for the Cavs, Daniel Gibson returned after missing a week with the birth of his first child.
Man oh Man(u)!: Some people have questioned whether Manu Ginobili is on the downslope of his career. If one game can reject a feeling, this one certainly qualifies. Ginobili stepped up in a big way and almost single-handedly carried his team to victory. In the first half, Ginobili got ridiculously open looks as the Cavaliers chose to go with a strategy of doubling Tim Duncan in the post. It was so poorly executed on one instance that Jawad Williams came down to double Timmy on the right block and TD kicked it out to a wide-open Ginobili on the right wing for the three. The Cavs tried Anthony Parker, Jamario Moon, Delonte West, and Jawad Williams all on Ginobili in the first half, and none of them seemed up to the task. Manu got so many open looks, starting off 4 of his first 5 shots in the first for 14 points, and he had 23 points at the break.