Cleveland held San Antonio scoreless for five minutes starting with 6:05 remaining in the fourth and outscored the Spurs 30-23 in the quarter.
"We knew we had to most importantly get stops. That was the main thing," Garland said. "If we got stops, we knew that we were going to at least get a good shot up or score. As long as we got the stops down the stretch, we felt confident in our offense."
Jarrett Allen finished with 17 points and 16 rebounds for Cleveland, which won its third straight and fourth in five games.
The Spurs struggled against Cleveland's frontcourt of 7-footers Evan Mobley and Lauri Markkanen, and the 6-11 Allen.
Mobley added 15 points and Markkanen had eight.
The trio also helped stymie Spurs center Jakob Poeltl, who was scoreless on just four field goal attempts and no free throws.
Cleveland shot 53% from the field in the first half, with a pair of alley-oop dunks to Mobley and Allen. The Cavaliers finished with four alley-oop dunks. Allen threw down the final one with 1:53 remaining to give the Cavs a 108-103 lead seconds after Markkanen stuffed a one-handed dunk over Poeltl.
"There is a connectedness in our group where they talk to one another, they hold each other accountable," Cleveland coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. "They have a collective spirit to want to get it done. When you have that, there is no fracturing, there is no separation. Everybody comes together and they go out and compete and try to get the job done. I thought they did a great job of that."
The Cavaliers had a 20-point advantage in scoring 60 points in the paint. The Spurs attempted to keep pace by going 15 for 34 on 3-pointers but couldn't maintain a lead in the third quarter.
"They are trying their best, we've just got to do it better," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "We've got to have fewer turnovers. We've got to have better block outs and not give up as many offensive boards. Good decisions on shots, finding the 3-man better.
"There are lots of things we can improve, but we have to be patient to some degree because the combinations that we have, they have basically never played together and some of them are quite young. That's going to take some time. They're taking their lumps now, but Cleveland is a hell of a team."
San Antonio was on a 15-6 run in the final 5 ½ minutes of the period to take its largest lead before Cedi Osman drained a 3-pointer at the buzzer to pull Cleveland within 86-84.
"Those hurt," Allen said. "Those hurt a lot more than it shows on the scoreboard. It's just deflating. You go on a big run like they did and then here I'm pretty sure Evan made the pass to Cedi and it was a swish. You could feel the crowd was deflated. You saw the Spurs just walking off to the bench. It's tough when you have that momentum and it's just shut down like that."
Cavaliers: Point guard Rajon Rondo missed his second straight game with a sore right hamstring. Bickerstaff did not have an update on Rondo's return. … Isaac Okoro had six points in 16 minutes in his return after missing five games due to a sprained left elbow. … Cleveland is 14-9 on the road after going 9-27 last season.
Spurs: Derrick White and Tre Jones remain in the league's health and safety protocols due to COVID-19. Popovich said he does not know when either will return. … Murray leads San Antonio in points, assists and steals, and is second in rebounding. He entered the game averaging 18.8 points, 8.2 rebounds, 8.9 assists and 2.1 steals. … Drew Eubanks missed the game with an unspecified illness, which was not COVID-19. Eubanks was in uniform, sitting with the team on the bench.
Jarrett Allen plays 32 minutes, shooting 7 for 11. PHOTO: AP
Popovich praised Cavaliers forward Kevin Love for putting the US Olympic basketball first leading into Tokyo last summer.
Love was not fully healthy from a right calf injury that sidelined him for much of last season. So, Love voluntarily gave up his roster spot on the U.S. team after spending 10 days preparing for the Olympics.
"He was in a really tough spot," Popovich said. "He did everything he could to be ready to go physically, but he got dealt a bad hand. Everything was so compressed. The NBA (season) went so long, and the Olympics started quicker. So, there wasn't as much time as I think he thought he had to get back to where he wanted to be. But he wanted it badly. He worked his fanny off every day to get that medal. At one point he realized there wasn't going to be enough time to do it. And then what he did was unbelievably impressive to me. I thought it took a lot of courage."
Cavaliers: At Oklahoma City on Saturday.
Spurs: Host Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday.
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