SAN ANTONIO — Cleveland veteran Kevin Love has struggled to find a bright spot during a gloomy season for the Cavaliers, so he created his own.
Love hit a tying 3-pointer in the final seconds of regulation and finished with 30 points and 17 rebounds as the Cavs rallied past the San Antonio Spurs 117-109 in overtime Thursday night to stop an eight-game losing streak.
“Hell, yeah,” Love said when asked about the importance of having fun. “I think that’s what is lost sometimes. It’s human nature to feel that way after the losses pile up or you fall on hard times, but I think it’s a really long season. You have to find some bright spots and know at the end of the day that if you really love this game, there is going to be ups and downs.”
Love had 10 points in the fourth quarter and OT to help Cleveland win for the first time since Nov. 23 against Portland.
San Antonio played a third straight overtime game for the first time in franchise history. The Spurs won the previous two at home but failed to maintain a five-point lead with 20 seconds left in the fourth quarter this time.
DeMar DeRozan had 21 points but missed a pair of free throws with 14 seconds remaining in regulation and the Spurs leading 103-100.
“No excuse why I shouldn’t have made those free throws,” DeRozan said. “That’s just not acceptable on my part.”
Love followed by tying the game at 103 on a 3 with 7.5 seconds to go.
“Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good, right?” Love said. “It was a little bit of a broken play there. Got off a good pump fake. Could have shot it but felt that little pump fake was going to give me a little bit better look, which it did.”
DeRozan missed a 20-foot fadeaway jumper at the close of regulation.
The Cavaliers opened overtime on an 8-4 run, including back-to-back 3s by Love and Cedi Osman, to capture just their third road win of the season.
“It was a great celebration as a team and you could tell (from) the energy (at the close of regulation that) we were going to come out with the victory,” guard Collin Sexton said.
Sexton had 28 points and San Antonio native Jordan Clarkson added 25 for the Cavaliers (6-19). The duo shot 20 for 37 with only four turnovers.
“We just kept going to the action with both of them in the pick-and-roll and we were able to make some really good things happen,” Love said.
The Spurs outscored the Cavs 35-22 in the fourth period after trailing by 13 in the third.
Consecutive layups by DeRozan put San Antonio up 84-83 with 6:23 remaining. It was the Spurs’ first lead since Rudy Gay’s 3-pointer put them ahead 7-6 with 8:19 left in the first quarter.
Derrick White added 17 points and LaMarcus Aldridge had 12 for San Antonio (9-15).
“It’s on all of us tonight,” Aldridge said. “We let a good opportunity slip away.”
Cleveland lost four of its previous five games by 20-plus points but dominated for three quarters. The Cavaliers built a 10-point lead in the second while shooting 47% from the field.
“Cleveland played for 48, we played for 24,” San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said. “That’s the bottom line.”
Cavaliers: Their previous victory against the Spurs was March 12, 2015, in San Antonio. ... Dylan Windler missed the game with a lower left leg stress reaction. Windler is the only injured player on the roster.
Spurs: Assistant coach Tim Duncan missed the game due to illness. Fellow assistant Mitch Johnson took Duncan’s spot on the front row of the bench alongside Popovich and assistants Becky Hammon and Will Hardy. … DeRozan was assessed a technical foul at the close of the first half for chucking the ball high over the backboard from the opposite lane. He appeared frustrated after the Cavaliers scored with 1.1 seconds left in the second quarter after rebounding a missed 3-pointer.
Playing in his hometown has lost some of its lustre for Clarkson, who is in his seventh NBA season.
“I don’t have no emotion,” Clarkson said. “I’m free of mind. So, it’s just like I just come out here and hoop and have fun. It’s definitely a big moment for my family coming to see me play on this court. But for me, it’s a game.”
Cavaliers: At the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday night.
Spurs: Play the Phoenix Suns on Saturday night in Mexico City.
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