Green, Spurs put Cavaliers to the sword

By Mike Monroe

CLEVELAND — Getting cut by the Cleveland Cavaliers three weeks into training camp before the 2010-11 season came as no great surprise to Danny Green, who started his 23rd game for the Spurs at Quicken Loans Arena on Tuesday and scored 19 points in their eighth straight victory, 125-90, over the undermanned and overmatched Cavs.

In 2009-10, Green played only 20 games as a rookie who had made Cleveland’s roster as a second-round pick. At camp with a non-guaranteed contract the next fall, he’d seen minimal playing time in exhibition games. The 6-foot-7 swingman could read between the lines in the sports section.

On Oct. 19, 2010, his name went on the waiver wire.

It was what happened in the days and weeks that followed that tested Green’s nerve.

“As weeks went by, I didn’t know what was going on,” he recalled after his 16 first-half points staked the Spurs to a comfortable lead that eventually grew to their largest margin of victory all season. “You talk to your agent, wait for phone calls, work out at home and wait.

“I had a lot of fun my first year (in Cleveland). It was a good organization, and I had a lot of great teammates. I didn’t think I would be out of the league so long and struggling to find another place to call home.”

San Antonio has been Green’s basketball home since last March 16, when he signed with the Spurs for the remainder of the 2010-11 season.

Tuesday’s game was his first in Cleveland since his rookie season, and he gave those among the announced crowd of 14,759 who remembered him reason to wonder why the Cavaliers let him go.

Making 6 of 9 shots, including 4 of 6 from 3-point range, he sparked a 60-point surge in the first half that sapped the will from the Cavs so thoroughly that coach Byron Scott accused them afterwards of failing to compete.

Green also did the bulk of the defensive work on Cavaliers rookie point guard Kyrie Irving, the likely Rookie of the Year, helping to limit him to 13 points on 5-for-15 shooting.

“Defensively, Danny’s been really solid,” Spurs captain Tim Duncan said. “He’s actually done a lot more than we thought he could do. He’s guarding a lot of different positions. He’s got some great hands. He’s been a great surprise for us.”

That left All-Star point guard Tony Parker guarding Anthony Parker, a pairing sure to confuse those listening on the radio, but intended to limit the wear and tear on Tony Parker’s legs.

“T.P. has done a pretty good job for us this year, and sometimes he’s going to need a little break,” Green said. “We can’t have him running around on offense and doing the same thing on defense chasing those really fast guards.

“He needs somebody to help him out a little bit, somebody younger. I volunteer sometimes. Hopefully, I can be effective and get some stops.”

Parker, who matched Green’s 19 points, played only 22 minutes and 40 seconds as coach Gregg Popovich used every player on his bench. No starter played more than Green’s 25:49.

Patty Mills scored 20 points in his third appearance for the Spurs, making 4 of 5 on 3-pointers.

Duncan, who took only six shots in his 23:25, called the game a perfect setup for tonight’s game in Boston against the Celtics, who have won five in a row.

“It’s good to have games like this for a number of reasons,” he said. “We got a lot of guys in there playing good amounts of time, getting guys comfortable with what we’re doing. We get to spread it out, and we’re on a back-to-back, so we got a little rest for the second game.

“Perfect scenario? Pretty close.”

The Spurs (37-14) now own two of the three longest win streaks of the season. Their 11-game roll from Jan. 30 to Feb. 21 is the league’s longest.
Twitter: @Monroe_SA

Leave a Reply