PITTSBURGH — No longer with LeBron James and Shaquille O’Neal, the Cleveland Cavaliers are seemingly losing the rest of their key players, too.
J.J. Hickson had 18 points and nine rebounds, and the Cavaliers beat the San Antonio Spurs 106-80 on Thursday night for their third consecutive preseason victory.
Forward Antawn Jamison (left knee sprain) and guard Anthony Parker (sprained right fingers) did not play after getting hurt in the second quarter. Both injuries are considered minor.
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“I don’t think either is serious enough where they will miss opening night,” Cavs coach Byron Scott said of the Oct. 27 game against Boston. “Hopefully they’ll both be quick healers and be back for practice before the last game or two of the preseason.”
Cleveland was already without guard Mo Williams (groin) and forward Anderson Varejao, who is recovering from a summer ankle injury and had previously missed nine days of camp to attend his grandfather’s funeral in Brazil.
“It’s kind of messed up the continuity a little bit of these guys all playing together, but it doesn’t bother me all that much,” Scott said. “We’re still in a learning process as a team, and some guys learn at a quicker pace than others.
“(Having everyone back for) the last couple preseason games would be good if we can have them. But if not, we will make an adjustment. The biggest thing is making sure those guys are healthy when Oct. 27 rolls around.”
Cleveland improved to 4-1 by outscoring a watereddown San Antonio roster 56-39 in the second half, including an 11-2 run late in the third quarter of the game at the University of Pittsburgh’s Petersen Events Center.
Gary Neal had 10 points and former Pitt player and Pittsburgh native DeJuan Blair nine points and 11 rebounds for the Spurs (2-2).
“They were just making shots tonight, and we weren’t,” Blair said. “We’ll be OK.”
The Spurs had played two days earlier in Mexico City, a 100-99 win over the Los Angeles Clippers. None of the team’s “Big Three” stars — Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker — made the trip, and neither did veteran starter Richard Jefferson.
But many of the announced crowd of 5,121 — less than a half of capac-ity, and fewer than a third of the seats were actually occupied — came to see Blair, who starred for two years at Pitt after playing his high school ball a few blocks away.
“It was cool, it was fun,” said Blair, who played a game-high 33 minutes. “It’s always a great experience to play in front of your hometown fans and your family and friends. I had a ball tonight.”
Ramon Sessions added 14 points and nine rebounds, and Daniel Gibson had 13 points, six assists and four rebounds for Cleveland.
Hickson, a 6-9 third-year forward, has been Cleveland’s leading scorer and rebounder this preseason following the much-publicized departure of James to Miami as a free agent.
- Hickson has at least 16 points in each of his past four games and at least nine rebounds on each of the past three.
- The Cavs set preseason highs in points and field goal percentage (51.9) and limited the Spurs to 37 percent shooting.
- Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker LaMarr Woodley attended the game.