The NBA All-Star break is over. Somebody better tell the San Antonio Spurs.
Playing with little intensity, the defending NBA champions were outhustled, outrebounded and outplayed on Tuesday night by the Cleveland Cavaliers in a shocking 92-81 victory.
"It was a bad game for us," said Tim Duncan. "We didn't play well, we didn't play hard. We had a little rust to us, but we never got into it."
Conversely, the Cavs were into it from the opening tip.
"Everybody was up for this game," said rookie guard Andre Miller, who scored 20 points and hit a key 3-pointer in the fourth quarter. "That shows we can play with anybody in this league."
Lamond Murray added 27 points for the Cavs, who snapped a four-game losing streak as they tried to put a little distance between themselves and an injury-filled first half of the season.
"It was very important to win and get back to the way we played in the beginning," Murray said. "We want to make this a whole new season. Now we have to do it again, and again."
Duncan scored 21 points and Robinsohad 20 points and 11 rebounds before fouling out with 55 seconds left.
The Spurs were flat from the start and had one of their poorest offensive games of the season. San Antonio shot just 39 percent and got little help from its bench. One of the NBA's top rebounding teams, the Spurs were outrebounded 43-35.
"We were really flat," said Robinson. "It was like we were still on vacation."
Following the game, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich blasted his team, taking out some of frustration on a chalkboard and locker.
"Coach went a little wild," said Duncan. "But we needed to hear that from him."
Popovich didn't excuse his team's behavior or his own.
"It was the worst exhibition of effort and basketball that I have seen all season long by any team," Popovich said. "We're pretty disappointed. I obviously expressed that. You could probably hear it. A locker ran into me, a chalkboard ran into me."
Miller's 3-pointer with 3:35 left was the biggest shot of the game. Alone on the right wing, Miller initially hesitated before knocking down the 3 to give the Cavs an 88-76 lead.
Miller, who made three straight 3-pointers during the weekend in the Rookie All-Star Challenge, said he almost passed up the shot.
"I was wide open, but guys had to tell me to shoot," said the soft-spoken Miller. "I was going to stand there and dribble out the clock."
Miller and Murray put the Cavs in position to win, combining for 14 points in the third quarter when Cleveland outscored San Antonio 27-15 to take control.
Miller is making it increasingly difficult for Cavs coach Randy Wittman to justify not starting him. The first-round draft pick from Utah, who improves with each game, added seven assists and made just one turnover in 33 minutes.
Late in the third quarter, he scored four points and made a nice assist to a slashing Murray for a dunk as the Cavs closed the period with a 14-4 run to take a 70-61 lead after three.
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