Cleveland Cavaliers' Dion Waiters (3) goes up for a dunk against the San Antonio Spurs during the second quarter of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, March 4, 2014, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)
CLEVELAND — Danny Green scored 24 points and the San Antonio Spurs turned to their 3-point shooting to shake off a sluggish start in a 122-101 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers tonight.
Kawhi Leonard added 18 points, and Patty Mills and Boris Diaw had 16 apiece as the Spurs won their fourth straight. They did it with stars Tim Duncan and Tony Parker combining for just 14 points.
San Antonio, chasing Oklahoma City for the best record in the Western Conference, made 14 of 33 3-pointers. The Spurs trailed by 12 early in the second before making six straight 3s.
Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters scored 24 each for the Cavs, who have lost nine straight to the Spurs. Spencer Hawes added 20 points and 13 rebounds for Cleveland.
This wasn’t as easy for the Spurs as their 30-point blowout of the Cavs in November, but it was close.
With the trademark efficiency that has made them a model franchise, San Antonio turned a competitive game for nearly three quarters into a laugher.
And, the Spurs did it from deep.
San Antonio started just 1 of 7 on 3-pointers, but the NBA’s best 3-point shooting team made 12 of its next 18 to open a 17-point lead after three quarters.
Parker, playing his second game after sitting out six to heal up an assortment of injuries, scored seven points in 22 minutes. Duncan also had only seven but both All-Stars were able to enjoy the final quarter on the bench.
Whenever the Cavs got close, the Spurs used a 3-pointer to open some distance.
Irving’s three-point play late in the third pulled Cleveland to 76-65, but Mills made two 3-pointers and Diaw knocked down another 3 in the final 1:04 to put the Spurs ahead 85-68 entering the fourth.
Green’s 3-pointer made it 88-68, and his conventional three-point play swelled the Spurs’ margin to 23 in the opening minute of the fourth.
The Spurs started miserably, shooting just 5 of 21 and scoring only 13 points in a ragged first quarter. They seemed disinterested and the Cavs took advantage, opening a 12-point lead in the first minute of the second quarter.
It didn’t last long.
San Antonio made those six straight 3s to open the second quarter, and the Spurs outscored the Cavs 37-17 in the period to take a 50-40 halftime lead.
Mills triggered the turnaround by scoring 10 points in the quarter.
With the Cavs leading 27-16, Manu Ginobili hit a 3-pointer, Diaw and Mills knocked down 3s and San Antonio went on its 12-0 run to take a 28-27 lead. The long-range barrage continued with Mills, Green and Ginobili hitting 3s in a 3-minute span to help the Spurs open a 48-36 lead.
The Cavaliers got Waiters back but still have some key parts missing.
Cleveland center Anderson Varejao was sidelined for the 11th straight game with a sore back, and swingman C.J. Miles sat out his seventh in a row with a sprained left ankle.
NOTES: The Spurs improved the NBA’s best road record to 23-8. ... Green played 20 games as a rookie with Cleveland in 2009-10, when Mike Brown was in the final season of his first stint as Cavs coach. Green was cut the following season, and released twice by San Antonio before landing a full-time gig with the Spurs. Brown has always pulled for Green. “Great guy,” Brown said. “He worked his tail off to get where he is. I wouldn’t wish anything besides luck for him, except when he’s playing us. When he did start having some success — because he didn’t change as a person — everybody that crossed paths with him has rooted for him.” ... The Spurs have had a winning road record for 17 straight seasons, a league mark.