NBA: Jarrett Allen, Cavaliers fend off Spurs | Inquirer Sports

NBA: Jarrett Allen, Cavaliers fend off Spurs

/ 05:29 PM January 08, 2024

Jarrett Allen Cavaliers NBA

Cleveland Cavaliers’ Jarrett Allen (31) shoots over San Antonio Spurs’ Victor Wembanyama (1) during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Cleveland, Sunday, Jan. 7, 2024. (AP Photo/Phil Long)

CLEVELAND — Jarrett Allen had 29 points and 16 rebounds, Caris LeVert scored 23 points off the bench and the Cleveland Cavaliers beat the San Antonio Spurs 117-115 on Sunday.

Top overall draft pick Victor Wembanyama had 24 points, 10 rebounds and five blocked shots in 25 minutes for San Antonio. The 7-foot-3 Frenchman leads the NBA in blocks and ranks first among rookies in scoring, rebounding and steals.

“(Allen) was a great threat and is a player that I respect,” said Wembanyama, who remains on a minutes restriction imposed by the team. “He’s the type of player I like and he’s already had a long career. He’s efficient and does the hard jobs.”

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Allen is averaging 21.0 points and 15.7 rebounds over the last seven games for Cleveland, which has won three in a row. The Cavaliers left for France later in the day in preparation for their Thursday game in Paris against Brooklyn.

“I don’t know any big man, any center who is playing better than Jarrett Allen right now,” Cleveland coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. “In my opinion, he’s an All-Star. He’s got to be. It’s deserving.”

Wembanyama and Allen exchanged highlight-reel blocks of each other in a wild fourth quarter that saw Cleveland build a 111-95 lead, only to have San Antonio answer with a 20-6 run — scoring the final 11 points — to pull within two in the final minute.

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The Spurs had a pair of opportunities to go ahead, but Jeremy Sochan threw the ball out of bounds with 10 seconds left and his 31-footer was off target at the buzzer. San Antonio has the second-worst record in the NBA at 5-30 and is 0-11 against the East.

“You know how we do it down here, we like to keep the fans engaged,” Allen quipped. “I’m excited for Wemby because he’s talented, takes people off the dribble, is an excellent shot blocker, posts up. He has it all. And you don’t realize how big his wingspan is until you go against him.”

Sam Merrill scored 18 points and Donovan Mitchell had 17 points and nine assists for the Cavaliers. Cleveland is 8-3 since learning it will be without point guard Darius Garland (broken jaw) and power forward Evan Mobley (left knee surgery) until February.

“In the fourth quarter, we took our foot off the gas a little bit,” LeVert said. “We’ve got to clean that up, but overall it was a good win for us.”

Devin Vassell had 22 points and Tre Jones and Keldon Johnson each added 18 for the Spurs. Longtime Cavaliers forward Cedi Osman had nine points and six rebounds in his return to Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.

“We outscored them 11-0 in the last three minutes, so the defense was pretty good,” San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said.

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Vassell scored 12 points in the first quarter as the Spurs went up 14, but Merrill caught fire with five 3-pointers to send Cleveland into halftime with a 62-56 lead.

UP NEXT

San Antonio: At Detroit on Wednesday night.

Cleveland: Plays Brooklyn in Paris on Thursday.

TAGS: Cleveland Cavaliers, Jarrett Allen, NBA

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