LaMarcus Aldridge had 18 points and 13 rebounds as the San Antonio Spurs, who are 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.
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 with 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.
DeMar DeRozan and Patty Mills 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.
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.
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.
With the popular Frye retiring after Tuesday’s game and 13 seasons, Cavs coach Larry Drew started the 35-year-old for the first time since Jan. 9.
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 over his Cavaliers’ jersey. The gesture couldn’t have been easy for Love, who played at rival UCLA.
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.
Frye, a key member of the Cavs’ 2016 title team, played the first seven minutes and pretended to collapse on the bench when he finally came out.
When he was pulled with 1:34 left in the game, Frye received a loud ovation before being tackled to the floor by teammates.
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. … Coach Gregg 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: 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.