After losing to the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday, the Spurs craved a validating win over a conference leader. Ginobili made sure they got one.
He shot 4 of 7 in the fourth, including two 3-pointers and a stretch of four straight Spurs baskets. It was the third 30-point game for Ginobili since being forced into the starting lineup this month when Tony Parker broke his right hand.
LeBron James had 27 points for Cleveland, but the Cavs watched their winning streak slip away with six scoreless possessions down the stretch.
James misfired twice and turned the ball over on half of those possessions. His frustrating fourth quarter included tumbling to the baseline after losing the basketball — when Ginobili, fittingly, hooked his left arm around to knock it away.
James wanted a foul, but Ginobili could do little wrong this quarter.
Richard Jefferson and Tim Duncan each had 16 points and George Hill scored 14 for the Spurs. The Spurs walked away splitting a brutal two-game stretch against the Lakers, the best in the West, and the East-leading Cavaliers.
The Spurs ended a Cavs winning streak they started March 8 with a loss in Cleveland, San Antonio's first game without Parker. Cleveland beat the Spurs 97-95 and hadn't lost since.
It had been Cleveland's second-longest winning streak this season.
Ginobili's 38 against the Cavs weren't enough to beat Cleveland the first time around this month. But 30 did the trick this time.
Since Parker went down March 6, Ginobili is averaging 23.8 points and has carried the Spurs to a 7-4 mark without their starting pointing guard. Parker isn't expected to return until the playoffs.
Beating the Cavs gave the Spurs one of their best wins in what will likely be their worst season in the Duncan era.
Excluding the lockout-shortened 1998-99 season, San Antonio has never won fewer than 53 regular-season games since drafting Duncan in 1997. But that's now in jeopardy.
The Spurs (43-28) can only afford to lose once in their final 11 games to avoid their worst regular-season record since 1996-97, when they last missed the playoffs after winning just 20 games. They're in better shape this time — but need to be careful.
San Antonio is seventh in the Western Conference, a half-game ahead of Portland.
The schedule only gets slightly easier for the Spurs, who go to Boston on Sunday. The Celtics are one of eight winning teams still ahead for the Spurs, including another round with the Lakers and Orlando.
NOTES: Cavs F Anderson Varejao left the game in the first half with a sore hamstring and did not return. ... The Cavs face their final West opponent — at least for the regular season — Sunday against Sacramento.
Source: AP News