CLEVELAND (AP) — LaMarcus Aldridge had 18 points and 13 rebounds as San Antonio, locked in a three-team scramble to determine playoff seeding in the Western Conference, extended Cleveland’s losing streak to nine games by beating the Cavaliers 112-90 on Sunday.
Nothing is decided about the Spurs’ playoff situation except that they’re in.
And that’s all that matters.
The Spurs recently clinched a postseason spot for a NBA record-tying 22nd year in a row, but they don’t yet know who they’ll play in the first round. San Antonio came into the day in eighth place, which would mean an early matchup — and maybe an early exit — against defending champion Golden State.
However, the Spurs can still move ahead of Oklahoma City and the Los Angeles Clippers as they own tiebreakers with both teams.
“It’s going to play out however it plays out,” said forward DeMar DeRozan, who had 14 points and nine assists. “Wherever the chips fall is how they fall.”
Patty Mills and Davis Bertans added 14 points apiece for the balanced Spurs, who turned back every Cleveland challenge in the second half. Mills made three 3-pointers in a two-minute span early in the fourth quarter to end any chances of the Cavs rallying.
Taking their lead from coach Gregg Popovich, the Spurs avoided talking directly about a potential date with the Warriors. But the possibility exists, which is why Golden State wants to move up in the standings.
“We’re all aware of it, but we’ve got to handle our own business first,” said guard Derrick White. “It would be nice to get a higher seed. The higher seed we could get would be best.”
San Antonio didn’t pull away from Cleveland until midway through the second quarter and the Spurs used a 9-0 run over the final 2:05 to open a 62-46 halftime lead.
Rookie Collin Sexton and Brandon Knight scored 16 each for Cleveland, and the Cavs celebrated the upcoming retirement of forward Channing Frye throughout the game.
Kevin Love returned after missing four games and played 13 minutes in the first half — a salute to Frye, his close friend.
The Cavs honored Frye, who will retire following Tuesday’s game and 13 seasons.
Frye became one of the franchise’s most popular players, bonding with Cleveland fans because of his positive attitude and bubbly personality. Several of his teammates have credited his influence in helping the team win the 2016 title.
Frye said Cleveland has become home.
“I’ve won a championship here. I’ve had a kid here,” he said. “Then just having great teammates, then on the other end both my parents died while I was here. So just having those highs and lows. Going to the Finals, losing in the Finals, getting traded, coming back, injuries this year. I think with all these highs and lows, I’ve seen the best of Cleveland and I’ve seen the best of the fans. I think that’s why I’m endearing to them. A lot of people say, ‘I love our fans.’ I legitimately love our fans.”
Love wanted to play alongside Frye one last time and subbed in during the first quarter wearing his friend’s No. 45 college jersey from the University of Arizona. The gesture couldn’t have been easy for Love, who played at rival UCLA.
“I bit the bullet,” Love said. “It’s one of the guys who taught me to sacrifice and I sacrificed by wearing an Arizona jersey and it was a little tough.”
When Frye hit a 3-pointer for Cleveland’s first points, the Cavs bench erupted and the reserves, who all wore shooting shirts with “Channing” on the back, celebrated with high-fives.
Spurs: San Antonio’s playoff streak is the longest active one in the league. Golden State and Houston are tied for second with seven. … G Marco Belinelli (left hip soreness) sat out the first half. He didn’t score in 10 minutes. … Popovich had kind words for Frye. “He’s one of those stretch-4-kind-of guys we always talk about that really had an impact,” Popovich said. “Most of my memories of him were in Phoenix, where he was really a big problem for us. He did such a great job and really cemented that, it’s going to be part of the NBA forever — shooting big guys — and he was great at it. He’s been a great teammate.”
Cavaliers: Recorded a season-high 14 steals. … Sexton came in averaging 23.9 points over his past 15 games. … G Matthew Dellavedova missed his 16th straight game with a concussion. … Coach Larry Drew said he has not discussed his future with the club. Drew took over when Tyronn Lue was fired in October after a 0-6 start. Drew received a pay raise and new contract from the Cavs, which includes a team option for next season.
Spurs: Host Dallas in regular-season finale on Wednesday.
Cavaliers: Conclude season Tuesday at home against Charlotte.