Warriors crush the Cavs 129-105 in Cleveland on Wednesday night

GSW final
Graphic: @Warriors

By Charlie O. Mallonee

In every sport, there are certain teams that every other team wants to play because they know the chances of coming away with a “W” is so great that they can taste victory before the game begins. When “King James” ruled the city by the lake, that was not the case. Going to play in the “Q” was something to be feared.

Now that LeBron has taken his “talents” to SoCal and the Lakers, playing in the “Q” has become a place for teams to get healthy. The Cavs best player Kevin Love is unavailable due to left foot surgery, and no one would be surprised if Love does not demand to be traded to a competitive team.

Things are so bad in Cleveland that the Cavaliers were the first team in the NBA to fire their head coach. Tyronn Lue who coached the Cavs to an NBA Championship in 2016 was fired after Cleveland started the season 0-6 with LeBron James in “Lakerland” and Kevin Love ailing.

The Warriors entered the game on Wednesday night with a record of 16-9 to do battle with a Cleveland squad that had recorded a record of 5-18.

Tough Road Trip
This was game four of a five-game road trip for the Warriors. They entered the contest 1-2 on the trip. The W’s had lost games in Toronto and Detroit but had bounced back into the win column in the ATL on Monday night. A victory in Cleveland was really mandatory if this was to be a successful road trip for Golden State.

GSW Thompson to hoop
Thompson to the basket Photo: @Warriors

First Half Battle
The Cavs served notice in the first half that they were not going to just roll over and die because they were facing the defending NBA Champion Golden State Warriors. GSW held a six-point at the end of the first quarter, but Cleveland turned it up a notch in the second period.

Cleveland shot 68.2-percent from the floor (15/22) in the second quarter and hit seven 3-point baskets. The Cavs outscored the Warriors 39-27 for the period behind the scoring of Cedi Osman (8 pts), Jordan Clarkson (8 pts) and Larry Nance Jr. (7 pts). The Cavs also outscored the Warriors on 2nd Chance Points 8-0 in the quarter.

At the half, Cleveland held a 64-58 lead over the Golden State Warriors.

Time to go to school
The Warriors came out of the locker room after halftime fired up and ready to play. Kevin Durant led the charge for the “W’s” as he scored 15 points, grabbed five rebounds and dished out two assists in the period. Durant hit 6-of-9 shots – three of which were 3-point baskets.

GSW outscored the Cavs 12-2 on the Fast Break in the quarter.

At the end of three quarters, Golden State was leading Cleveland 95-86.

Turn Out the Lights
The Cavs’ final demise came in the fourth period when Stephen Curry came alive and scored 12-points shooting 2-for-4 from the floor (both 3-point baskets) and converted 6-for-6 in opportunities from the free throw line.

Klay Thompson and Quinn Cook also added eight points apiece in the final period as the Warriors outscored the Cavaliers 34-19 in last 12 minutes of the contest.

When the final buzzer sounded, the Golden State Warriors (17-9) had defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers (5-19) 129-105. For the Warriors, it was their second consecutive win.

Top Performers

GSW Prime Logo

Golden State

  • Leading scorer: Steph Curry 42 points (also game high) to go with nine rebounds
  • Double-double: Kevin Durant 25 points and 10 rebounds (9 assists)
  • FG% 52.9 (45/85)  3FG% 52.9 (18/34)  29 Assists 9 Turnovers (17 CLE pts)

Cleveland

  • Leading scorer: Colin Sexton 21 points (7/14 shooting)
  • Double-double: Tristan Thompson 14 points and 19 rebounds
  • Wow: George Hill 25:13 on the floor 0 points and 3 assists

Steve Kerr on Curry
“It’s pretty rare, but Steph is rare in general in everything he does. We’ve seen it before where Steph was out with an injury and comes back and starts lighting it up right away,” said Kerr. “The guy keeps himself in amazing shape – which allows him to come back pretty quickly if there is an injury.”

Up Next
The Warriors wrap up this five-game road trip on Friday night in Milwaukee versus the very tough Bucks in a nationally televised game. The game tips off at 4:00 PM PST.

The Cavs will also be in action on Friday night when they will host the upstart Sacramento Kings at the “Q”.

On to Game five if you’re Golden State

Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant (35) shoots past Cleveland Cavaliers center Tristan Thompson (13) during the second half of Game 4 of basketball’s NBA Finals in Cleveland, Friday, June 9, 2017. Cleveland won 137-116. (Ronald Martinez/Pool Photo via AP)

By Joe Hawkes-Beamon
Sports Radio Service Writer

CLEVELAND, OH — The closeout games are always the toughest to win.

The Golden State Warriors were 48 minutes from basketball immortality when they entered Game 4  of the NBA Finals with a chance to send the Cleveland Cavaliers home for the summer, but the Cavaliers used lead wire-to-wire for a 137-116 win Friday night at Quicken Loans Arena to force Game 5 in Oakland on Monday night at Oracle Arena.

The loss snaps Golden State’s postseason record 15 straight wins, denying the Warriors of becoming the first team in NBA history to go through the postseason undefeated at 16-0.

Give the Cavaliers credit, they weren’t ready to see the Warriors celebrate another championship on their home floor as Golden State did back in 2015 when they defeated Cleveland in six games to capture the franchise’s first championship in 40 years.

LeBron James, who passed former Los Angeles Lakers great and hall of famer Magic Johnson for the most triple-doubles in the Finals with his 31-point, 10-rebound and 11-assist effort, finished 11-for-22 from the floor.

James led Cleveland with 39 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists in Cleveland’s heartbreaking loss to the Warriors 118-113 in Game 3  on Wednesday night after Cleveland led by six with three minutes left in the game before Golden State went on an 11-0 run to take a 3-0 lead in the best-of-7 series.

But don’t blink now, but the Cavaliers find themselves in the same predicament this year as they did last year: down 3-1 heading back to the West Coast trying to stave off elimination and we all know what happened.

The Cavaliers won Game 5 in Oakland, Game 6 in Cleveland, and the clinching Game 7 on the Warriors’ home floor for the Cavaliers’ first championship in franchise history, and the first major championship for Northeast Ohio since 1964.

Cleveland obliterated the record book for the Finals in Game 4, having the highest-scoring first quarter (49 points) and first half (86 points) and the most 3-pointers (24) in Finals history.

Kyrie Irving turned in another spectacular game, scoring a game-high 40 points on 15-for-27 shooting, including 7-for-12 from beyond the 3-point line.

But Game 4 was a lot closer than the final score indicated.

Both teams got 87 shots up, but Cleveland shot a blistering 52.9-percent (46-for-87) from the floor, compared to Golden State’s 44.8-percent (39-for-87).

Cleveland slightly out-rebounded Golden State 56-52, thanks largely to Tristan Thompson’s 10 rebounds after having just nine in Games 1-3 combined. The Warriors made keeping Thompson off the boards in the series a priority after averaging double-digit rebounds in the two previous Finals meetings between the teams.

For Golden State, you gotta turn the page from Game 4 and focus on Game 5 after letting the opportunity for a sweep slip through their fingers.

Kevin Durant, one victory away from his first championship, finished with 35 points on 9-for-22 shooting. It was Durant’s fourth-straight 30-point game of the series, but the Splash Brothers picked a bad night to have their quietest game of the Finals, combining for only 27 points on 8-for-24 from the floor (6-for-19 on 3s)

Cleveland did a great job of harassing Curry in Game 4, double-teaming and trapping the two-time league MVP whenever he got the ball.

Curry never got in a groove offensively, shooting 4-for-13 from the floor and a putrid 2-for-9 from the 3-point line while recording 10 assists after finishing with 26 points, 13 rebounds and six assists in Game 3.

Klay Thompson finished with 13 points on 4-for-11 shooting. All of Thompson’s makes were from beyond the 3-point line, converting 4-for-10. Thompson’s 30 points were instrumental in Golden State’s Game 3 win.

Draymond Green had 16 points and 14 rebounds and was part of a crazy set of events in the third quarter that led two technical fouls, and a friend of James being escorted from the arena.

It was announced in the third quarter that Green had assessed his second technical foul, prompting security onto the floor to escort Green back to the locker room. But the officials confirmed that Green’s technical foul in the first half was actually given to Warriors head coach Steve Kerr, which was even more confusing.

Then, Warriors center Zaza Pachulia was involved in a pileup where he appeared to swipe Cavaliers forward Iman Shumpert int he groin area. Pachulia should’ve been ejected from the game, but was given a technical foul along with Shumpert.

A total of seven technical fouls and one flagrant foul were handed down in Game 4.

There will be a lot said and written about the Cavaliers dominance over the Warriors in Game 4 over the next 48 hours, whether its opinions or jokes. Cleveland were the aggressor from start to finish for 48 minutes and that can’t be glossed over. Golden State knows what type of team that the Cavaliers are.

The Cavaliers were simply the better team Friday night, a rarity for the opponent to be better than Golden State.

Keep this in mind: one loss isn’t the end of the world for Golden State. The Warriors are still firmly in control of the series and are 31-1 in their last 32 games dating back to the regular season. Golden State is still the superior team and most people don’t expect a sub par performance from the Warriors’ core in Game 5 on Monday night.

But Golden State’s first lost this postseason does leave the door slightly ajar for Cleveland heading back to the 510 area code.

 

 

Durant and Warriors one win away from title

Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant (35) passes around Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) during the first half of Game 3 of basketball’s NBA Finals in Cleveland, Wednesday, June 7, 2017. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

By Joe Hawkes-Beamon
Sports Radio Service Writer

CLEVELAND, OH — Kevin Durant’s 31 points, including a clutch 3-pointer with 45.3 left in the fourth quarter propelled the Golden State Warriors to within 48 minutes of their second title in three years with a 118-113 win in Game 3 of the NBA Finals at Quicken Loans Arena over the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Durant signed with Golden State last summer after nine seasons with the Oklahoma City Thunder for an opportunity to finally capture that elusive championship ring that he so desperately seeks.

Trailing by six with 2:45 left in the fourth quarter, Golden State closed out the game on a 11-0 run with Durant scoring 14 points in the final quarter. Golden State tightened up the defense during that stretch, holding Cleveland to 0-for-8 from the floor.

When you combine the 16-1 finish to the regular season, and the NBA-record 15 straight postseason victories (including tonight’s come-from-behind victory), Golden State is 30-1 in their last 31 games. Golden State owns the longest postseason winning streak among the four major professional sports.

That sounds great and all, but that is not the ultimate prize that the Warriors are playing for with a commanding 3-0 lead in hand over the Cavaliers in the best-of-7 NBA Finals.

If the Warriors can close out the series in Friday night’s Game 4, Golden State will become the only team in NBA history to finish the postseason unblemished at 16-0 and denying Cleveland their second-straight championship. Cleveland engineered the greatest comeback in NBA Finals’ history when they stormed back last year and won the title from Golden State after the Warriors claimed a 3-1 lead.

The Warriors haven’t forgotten that sickening feeling of seeing Cleveland celebrating on Golden State’s home floor in Game 7 last year. Cleveland denied Golden State (who also won an NBA-record 73 games) the opportunity of winning back-to-back titles after Golden State won the 2015 NBA Championship over the Cavaliers in six games.

Now, Golden State is looking to return the favor and drive a stake through the Cavaliers’ heart by potentially sweeping them this year. No team has ever come back to win the NBA Finals when trailing 3-0.

Durant finished 10-for-18 from the floor, to go along with 4-for-7 on 3s, and joined Michael Jordan and Shaquille O’Neal as the only players in league history to average 25-plus points per game in their first eight games in the Finals according to ESPN Stats and Information.

Klay Thompson scored 21 of his 30 points in the first half and Stephen Curry finished with 24 for Golden State. Curry finished with six assists, and had 13 of the team’s 44 rebounds out-rebounding Cleveland (37) in the process.

Golden State knocked down a Finals’ record nine 3-pointers in the first quarter. After making a Finals’ record 18-of-43 3-pointers in Game 2, Golden State remained hot on 3s going 16-for-33 in Game 3. Thompson made a team-high six 3s.

Golden State shot 48-percent (40-for-83) from the floor on the night.

Ditto from the free throw line.

As in Game 2 when the Warriors shot 22-for-24  from the free throw line, Golden State hit the replay button and shot 22-for-24 in Game 3.

Cleveland finds themselves on the brink of a sweep after giving Golden State their best punch of the series in Game 3.

LeBron James, who is averaging a triple-double so far in the series, nearly had another triple-double with 39 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists. James tied his personal best for points in a Finals half with 27 points, while Kyrie Irving resurfaced his game, scoring 16 of his 38 points in the third quarter.

James and Irving left everything on the court in Game 4 for Cleveland, combining to shoot 31-for-56 from the floor and helped Cleveland out-score Golden State 33-22 in the third quarter, but it still wasn’t enough for a Cavaliers team that shot a 44-percent from the field (40-for-90).

J.R. Smith added 16 points after scoring just three points total in the first two games of the series, while Kevin Love struggled in Game 3 mustering just nine points on 1-for-9 shooting.

Cleveland was an iceberg from the 3-point line, shooting a dismal 12-for-44 (27-percent) on 3s, and allowed Golden State to rack up 29 assists to Cleveland’s 17.

After winning the first two games of the series by a combined 41 points and not yielding a second half lead until Cleveland took a 71-69 in the third quarter, Golden State needed all 48 minutes to outlast Cleveland Wednesday night.

 

 

 

 

Curry and Durant sizzle in Game two to put Warriors up 2-0 in Kerr’s return

Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant, center, celebrates with Draymond Green, left, and Klay Thompson during the second half of Game 2 of basketball’s NBA Finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers in Oakland, Calif., Sunday, June 4, 2017. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

By Joe Hawkes-Beamon
Sports Radio Service Writer

OAKLAND, Calif — Kevin Durant followed up his 38-point, eight-assist and eight-rebound performance from Game 1 with 33 points, 13 rebounds and six assists, and Stephen Curry recorded his first career postseason triple-double to help the Golden State Warriors take a 2-0 lead in the NBA Finals with a 132-113 win in Game 2 of the NBA Finals on Sunday night in front of another sold out, energetic crowd at Oracle Arena in head coach Steve Kerr’s return to the bench.

Kerr missed the last 11 games of the playoffs dating back to Game 2 of the first round of the Western Conference playoffs against the Portland Trailblazers with complications from back surgery nearly two years ago.

“Well, it’s been a great run but none of that matters unless we can finish the job with this series,” Kerr said postgame. “Trust me, we know. It was 2-0 last year, we lost.”

Golden State was in the same position last year, up 2-0, the going up 3-1, before the roof collapsed in on the Warriors’ season and the greatest comeback in NBA Finals history was authored by the Cavaliers, who stole the title in seven games costing the Warriors a chance for the repeat after winning the title in 2015.

In Games 1 and 2 of last year’s Finals, Golden State won both games by a combined 48 points. In the first two games of the Finals this year, the Warriors have defeated Cleveland by a combined 41 points this season according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

But this year is different.

It feels different, especially with Durant, a near-seven-foot scoring machine that has vastly improved defensively in Year 1 with the Warriors.

Durant shot 13-for-22 from the floor and was nearly unstoppable for most of the 41 minutes he was on the court tonight, while Curry scored 32 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds pulling Golden State within two wins of their second championship in three years.

Durant had five of Golden State’s seven blocks, and three of the team’s five steals.

At 14-0, Golden State is trying to become the first team in league history to go unbeaten on the way to the title. The Warriors currently have the longest postseason win streak in NBA history.

Curry made 7-for-17 from the floor, while connecting on 4-for-11 on 3s, but did most of his damage from the free throw line converting 14-for-14 from the charity stripe in 36 minutes.

The two-time league MVP put on a dribbling display on LeBron James in the third quarter where he drove past the three-time NBA Champion and scored as part of a 16-6 run to close out the quarter and the Warriors never looked back, carrying a 102-88 lead going into the fourth quarter.

Klay Thompson, who had been struggling shooting the ball throughout the postseason but has played superb defense in the previous 13 games, added 22 points on 8-for-12 from the floor to go along with 4-for-7 from behind the three-point line. Thompson added seven rebounds for Golden State, who also shot 18-for-43 on 3s.

Draymond Green had 12 points, six assists and six rebounds, but picked up three personal fouls within the first 11 minutes of the game and only played 25 minutes.

As a team, Golden State shot a blistering 51-percent (46-for-89) from the floor and shot 22-for-24 from the free throw line, while out-rebounding Cleveland 53-41 in the game.

The Cavaliers can hang their hat on the fact that they did force 20 turnovers after only forcing four in Game 1. For a team that didn’t record a single steal in Game 1, Cleveland had four within the game’s first seven minutes before finishing with a 15-5 edge.

“We turned the ball over too much in the first half. But the second half, I think we settled in, tried to play simple and defensively just tried to contest their shots,” Durant said after the game.

Curry had eight of those turnovers and was two away from having a dubious quadruple-double. His 10 first-quarter free throws matched a playoff record for made shots from the stripe in one period shared with Sarunas Marciulionis done on April 28, 1992, at Seattle. It also matched Paul Pierce for most in a Finals quarter according to ESPN Stats and Information.

LeBron James was Cleveland’s best player once again, matching Curry’s triple-double with one of his own, scoring 29 points, 14 assists and 11 rebounds in 39 minutes. James played spectacular, but appeared gassed in the fourth quarter with fatigue etched on his face.

According to ESPN Stats and Information, James and Curry became just the second opposing players in NBA postseason history to record a triple-double in the same game, joining Lew Alcindor (38 points/23 rebounds/11 assists) and Walt “Clyde” Frazier (10 points/12 rebounds/14 assists), who recorded their performances in Game 2 of the 1970 Eastern Division Finals won by Frazier’s Knicks, 112-111.

Frazier’s Knicks would win that series, 4-1, and go on and win the title defeating, Wilt Chamberlain and the Los Angeles Lakers in seven games.

James was 12-for-18 from the floor, while Kevin Love added 27 points and seven rebounds on 12-for-23 shooting.

After 24 points on 10-for-22 shooting for Kyrie Irving in Game 1, Irving managed just 19 points and struggled to find the basket shooting just eight-for-23. Irving was defended aggressively by the Warriors, forcing Irving into taking tough layups and jumpers.

Cleveland shot 45-for-100 (45-percent) from the field for the game, but struggled from 3, shooting just 8-for-29 (27-percent) from deep. The Cavaliers shot 3-for-20 from the three-point line in the first half.

With the series now shifting to Cleveland for Games 3 and 4, the Cavaliers will have to regroup if they want to get any momentum because the Warriors are firmly in the series’ driver seat.

J.R. Smith had zero points as the starting shooting guard, and Kyle Korver led Cleveland’s bench with just eight points, which equaled starting center Tristan Thompson’s offensive output on the night.

Lineup changes for Cleveland could be a possibility, or better yet, should be made. If you’re Cleveland head coach Tyronn Lue, you need to do something to shake up the players.

Cleveland already knows the production that they will get from James, Love and Irving on most nights, but the Cavaliers need to get other players involved or this series could become too much of a mountain to climb.

 

 

 

 

 

 

NBA Finals: More from Durant and the defense will go a long way for Warriors’ title hopes

Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant (35) in Game 1 of the NBA Finals in Oakland, Calif., Thursday, June 1, 2017. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

By Joe Hawkes-Beamon
Sports Radio Service Writer

OAKLAND, Calif — The basketball world was on pins and needles for the start of Round Three between the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals, and both teams lived up to the hype for the majority of Game 1 Thursday night before Kevin Durant and the Warriors took control and ran away with the victory, 113-91.

Durant, who many pundits questioned his decision to join a high-powered Warriors team that had already played in two Finals prior to his arrival, showed out in his first Finals game since 2012 as a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder; pouring in a game-high 38 points, eight rebounds, and eight assists to go along with zero turnovers on 14-for-26 shooting from the floor.

Not since the great Michael Jordan during the 1998 NBA Finals against the Utah Jazz that a player had at least 30 points, five assists, and zero turnovers in a game before Durant’s acts in Game 1 according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

But an epic performance on the NBA’s biggest stage is what we expect from Durant, a former league MVP, is it not?

Golden State already has a two-time league MVP (and the only unanimous MVP in league history) in Stephen Curry, who looks healthier as ever at this time this year than he did in last year’s Finals after adding 28 points, 10 assists, and six rebounds in Game 1, including 6-for-11 on 3s.

Add in Draymond Green (nine points and 11 rebounds), an odds on favorite to take home the league’s Defensive Player of the Year award this season after leading the NBA in steals per game (2.03), to go along with Klay Thompson, who despite shooting under 40-percent from both the floor (36-percent) and from beyond the three-point line (34-percent) during the postseason, was Golden State’s best defender in Game 1 holding would-be scorers to 1-for-12 shooting from the floor as the primary defender.

With all due respect to Harrison Barnes, who had a breakout season in Year 1 for the Mavericks averaging a career-high 19.2 points per game and was a fan favorite for all of Dub Nation, but his no-show during last year’s Finals (most notably in Games 5-7 where he scored just 15 points on 5-for-32 shooting (3-for-15 on 3s) after Golden State had a commanding 3-1 lead in the series still stings Warriors’ fans.

But Durant is clearly the difference-maker and much better upgrade from Barnes this year for the Warriors and will continue to be a huge match-up problem for Cleveland with Game 2 Sunday night at Oracle Arena at 5:00 p.m. PDT on the horizon.

And that’s even with first-ballot hall of famer LeBron James on the other side.

Circle back to Game 1: When Durant was on the floor, the Warriors out-scored Cleveland by 18, and in the 40 minutes that James was on the floor, the Warriors out-scored Cleveland by 22, with much of the damage coming in the second half for Golden State.

I counted at least six times in the first half of Game 1 where Cleveland’s defense just allowed Durant to cruise through the lane like he had a FasTrak embedded in his jersey for easy dunks.

At times in the game, it almost appeared that Cleveland were content on allowing Durant score at will and didn’t want to be burned by Golden State’s shooting.

Golden State shot 45-for-106 (42-percent) from the floor.

Making his NBA record seventh-consecutive Finals appearance, James was Cleveland’s most effective player, finishing with a team-high 28 points, 15 rebounds, and eight assists, but made just 9-for-20 from the floor.

If James could’ve recorded two more assists, he would’ve tied Lakers’ legend and NBA Hall of Famer Magic Johnson for the most triple-doubles in Finals history with eight, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Johnson led Los Angeles to nine Finals appearances and won five championships as the leader of the “Showtime” Lakers of the 1980s. Johnson’s teams were 5-4 in the Finals while James’s teams are just 3-4.

Outside of Kyrie Irving’s 24 points on 10-for-22 shooting from the floor, the defending NBA Champions’ supporting cast came up empty in Game 1.

Kevin Love did have 15 points and a game-high 21 rebounds, but shot just 4-for-13 from the floor.

The Warriors’ bench barely out-scored the Cavaliers’ bench 24-21.

Cleveland can’t let Golden State have their way with them in Game 2 as they did in Game 1  if they have any chance of gaining a split in Oakland before the series shifts to Northeast Ohio for Games 3 and 4 on Wednesday and Friday.

Golden State held the advantage in points-in-the-paint, out-scoring the Cavaliers 56-30 and dominating the fast-break, out-scoring Cleveland 27-9.

As a team, Cleveland shot 30-for-86 (34-percent) from the floor.

The 20 turnovers the Cavaliers committed that led to 21 points for Golden State was a testament to their superb defense they’ve collectively played all season long, forcing teams to shoot a league-low 43-percent from the field and finished tops in turnovers forced per game with 14.8 during the regular season.

In the postseason, Golden State is ratcheting up the defense intensity allowing just 41-percent from the floor through 13 games.

Not surprisingly, Golden State is 13-0 in the postseason this year, three wins from securing their second championship in three years.

Durant will have his fingerprints on the outcome of the Finals, believe that.

Win or lose.

Kings play the Cavs tough but come up short 120-108

Cleveland Cavaliers v Sacramento Kings
Kings Ty Lawson scored 17 points against the Cavaliers Photo: NBAE

by Charlie O. Mallonee

Sacramento — The Kings had the unenviable task of taking on LeBron James and the defending NBA Champion Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday night on their homecourt. The Cavs came into the game losers of two consecutive games and they were not looking to make it a three game losing streak. Cleveland did win the game 120-108 but after making look like they would just runaway with it in the first half, the Cavs found out the Kings have some fight in them this season as they made a battle of it in the second half.

The Kings (16-23) ran into trouble early as DeMarcus Cousins picked up two personal fouls in the first quarter and had to go to the bench with 4:18 remaining the period . The Cavaliers took advantage of the Kings big man being off the floor and ripped off 10 quick points to take a 32-15 lead into the second quarter.

In the second quarter, Kings head coach Dave Joerger took a big chance when he returned Cousins to the floor with 9:52 remaining because the Cavaliers were threatening to run away with the game. The move had the desired affect as Cleveland outscored the Kings just 29-28 in the period behind Cousins’ 11 points. Even more importantly, the Kings center did not pick up another foul in the quarter. At the half, Cleveland led Sacramento 61-43 but there appeared to be a pivot in the game. Frankly, the Cavs seemed to lose focus and possibly interest in the game late in the second quarter.

Cleveland Cavaliers v Sacramento Kings
Cousins had a big night versus Cleveland despite early foul trouble Photo: NBAE

After halftime, the Kings picked up where they left off in the first half. In the third quarter, it was Rudy Gay who picked up the offense scoring 11 points (4-for-6 shooting, 1 3-pointer, 2-of-3 free throws). Cousins had only three points in the quarter but had four assists as the team ran the ball through him on the high-post. Sacramento outscored the Cavaliers 31-23 in the third. The Kings shot 70.6-percent (12-for-17) from the field and hit 4-of-5 (80-percent) 3-pointers in the period. After three quarters, the Cavaliers led the Kings 84-74.

What the Kings needed in the fourth quarter was a run of 10 to 12 unanswered points. It looked like that was going to happen early in the quarter when Sacramento went on a 6-0 run and cut the Cleveland (29-10) lead to just six points. But, that was as close as the Kings would come to regaining the lead. Ty Lawson scored 13 in period for the Kings while Kyle Korver led the Cavs with eight points. When the final buzzer sounded, the Cavaliers had won the game 120-108.

The Kings Dave Joerger was a proud coach

“Good game – proud of our guys. We got off to a slow start. We didn’t make a lot of shots in the first half and we turned the basketball over 14 times, so they were able to get out and run. I had them for 24 fast break points in the first half. They ended up with 24. We cut it down in the second half a little bit. I’m happy about how we battled. We got three stops in a row 11 times which we haven’t done for a long time. And, we fought like crazy. They’re a good team. They present a plethora of problems to solve and that was a good experience for our guys and I was happy that we kept battling.

Stars of the game

  • Kings – While there were others with bigger numbers, no player had any more important stats than guard Ty Lawson. Lawson scored 17 points in the game and shot an impressive 7-for-10 from the floor. But what was really impressive about his scoring was that 13 of those 17 points were scored in the fourth quarter. Lawson shot 5-for-6 in final period. He played like a man possessed. A man who wanted to win the game.
  • Cavaliers – Again there were other players with larger numbers but Kyle Korver and his 18 points really stood out in the game. Korver was playing in just his third game for Cleveland since being traded from Atlanta. He had not even been able to have a full practice with the team before beginning to play for them. Kover did have the opportunity to participate in a shootaround on Friday morning and it looked like it paid off. Korver shot 7-for-10 from the field while hitting 4-of-6 from “downtown”. He also recorded five rebounds (1 offensive), two assists and two steals in the game.
cavs-korver
Kyle Korver had his best game for his new team in Sacramento on Friday night Photo: NBAE

Co-stars

  • Kings – DeMarcus Cousins posted maybe his most impressive double-double of the season. The big man scored 26 points and dished out 11 assists. The Kings made a nice adjustment against the Cleveland defense and started running the ball through Cousins on the high-post. When his teammates were moving to open space, Cousins was finding them and setting them up to score. Former Kings head coach George Karl who we know was not a big Cousins fan on many levels, called the center the best passer on the Kings multiple times last season. It seems Karl got at least one thing right.
  • Cavaliers – Iman Shumpert finished the game with 16 points for Cleveland, but he did his real damage in the first quarter. The talented guard went a perfect 3-for-3 (all 3-pointers) from the floor in the opening period. Those nine points helped to propel the Cavs out to a 32-15 lead that ultimately the Kings would never be able to overcome in the game.
cavs-shumpert
Iman Shumpert’s first quarter scoring influenced the entire game for Cleveland Photo: NBAE

Other key players

  • Kings – Rudy Gay 23 points and 10 rebounds (5 offensive); Darren Collison 13 points and four assists; Matt Barnes eight points and five rebounds in 17-minutes on the floor (his coach said in retrospect he should have probably played Barnes more).
  • Cavaliers – Kyrie Irving 26 points (10-for-22 shooting); LeBron James 16 points and 15 assists ( how’s that for a double-double?); Kevin Love 15 points and 18 rebounds.

The numbers game

  • Both teams shot over 50-percent from the floor: Cleveland 50.6-percent (44-for-87) Sacramento 52.5-percent (42-for-80)
  • There were 24 3-point baskets made in the game. The Kings shot a very nice 9-for-25 (36-percent) from beyond the arc. The Cavs made it rain as they hit 15-of-37 (40.5-percent) from downtown as teams continue to burn the Kings from beyond the 3-point line
  • The Kings out-rebounded the Cavaliers 42-39. They also were slightly better on the offensive glass grabbing 11 to the Cavs 10
  • Turnovers were a big problem for Sacramento in the first half as they committed 14 of their 21 miscues in the first 24 minutes. The Kings turned the ball over 21 times which resulted in 26 points for the Cavaliers. Cleveland took better care of the ball turning itover just 12 times but the TOVs did turn into 20 points for Sacramento.

Up next on the schedule

The Kings will be back on the floor on Sunday when they host Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder at the Golden 1 Center. The Kings beat the Thunder in Sacramento back in November 116-101 behind a 36 point effort from DeMarcus Cousins. Westbrook scored 31 for the Thunder in that contest. The game on Sunday night tips off at 6 p.m.

The Cavaliers are off until Monday when they will play their archrivals the Golden State Warriors in Oakland in a nationally televised game.

The two best teams slug it out on Christmas day in Cleveland. It’s a lump of coal for the Dubs

Cleveland Cavaliers’ LeBron James, right, hugs Golden State Warriors’ Stephen Curry before an NBA basketball game, Sunday, Dec. 25, 2016, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

by Jerry Feitelberg

The Golden State Warriors had this game marked on their calendar since last June 19th when they lost game 7 and the NBA Championship to the Cavaliers. Losing a game in a regular season hurts but not as much as in the playoffs. The Dubs really wanted to beat Cleveland Sunday and it looked like that was a strong possibility as the Dubs led by 14 94-80 early in the fourth quarter. The Cavs went on a 14-1 run to trail by three. The Dubs were just not able to put the game away. Steph Curry made a three-point shot to put them ahead 108105 with 1:14 left in the game. The Dubs did not score again and Cleveland, behind Kyrie Irving’s bucket with 3.4 seconds left, won the game for Cleveland 109-108.

The game was a thriller from start to finish. The Dubs led most of the way, but the Cavs kept coming back. The Dubs’ biggest lead until the fourth quarter was 49-38 in the second quarter, but the Cavs went on a 12-1 run and trailed by three 55-52 at the half. Draymond Green was called for two fouls in the first three minutes of the first quarter. He also was called for his 7th technical of the year when he complained to the refs that he was kicked by a Cleveland player. They didn’t listen, and Draymond had to sit out the entire first quarter.

Kevin Durant led the Warrior attack with twelve in the first 12 minutes of play. LeBron James had 6, Kevin Love 7, and Kyrie Irving 5 to lead Cleveland. The Dubs led by two 27-25 at the end of the quarter.  Klay Thompson started to score in the second quarter. Klay hit 2 3-point shots, and Steph had one.

The Dubs led by 11, but Cleveland went on a 12-1 run to tie the game at 50. Zaza Pachulia scored a deuce and KD hit a three. Cleveland score and the half ended with the Warriors up by three. KD Led the Dubs with 17, Klay had 13 and Steph was held to 6 points by the Cavaliers’ DeAndre Liggins. Lebron James, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love and Channing Frye were the leading scorers for the Cavs. The Dubs shot 46.2% from the floor, and they held the Cavs to 33.3%. However, the Cavs had more rebounds, especially on offense, and took more shots and were able to stay close.

The Warriors continued to hold the lead in the third quarter. Kevin Durant, Draymond Green, Klay Thompson all played well in the quarter. The Cavs’ LeBron James scored 16, but the Dubs were able to increase the lead to 87-80 at the end of the third quarter. The Dubs went on a 7-0 run to start the final stanza and were up by 14 when things started going south.

The Cavs continued to chip away at the lead and finally tied the game at 105 late in the quarter. Curry hit a three but, perhaps the key play was a Klay Thompson 3-point shot that was waved off by the refs as the 24-second shot clock expired. Had the shot counted the Dubs would have won but as mentioned earlier, they lost.

Game Notes- The Dubs fall to 27-5 while Cleveland improves to 23-6. Kevin Durant was fantastic for Golden State with 36 points, 3 assists, and 15 rebounds. Klay Thompson added 24. Draymond had 16 point, 4 assists, and 4 rebounds. Steph Curry was held to 15. He did make 2  3-poin shots, and the one he made late in the game almost won the Dubs the game.The Warriors committed 19 turnovers while Cleveland did better holding on to the ball as they lost it just 12 times.

The Warriors return home to face the Toronto Raptors Wednesday night at Oracle Arena. Game time will be at 7:30 pm.

 

Warriors second half struggles lead to Game 6 loss

by Michael Martinez

picture credit Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

At the half, the score was tied at 61. Kyrie Irving and LeBron James each had a tremendous first half, but Klay Thompson kept the Warriors right in it.

Out of the half, James and Irving continued playing great on the offensive end of the court while the Warriors began to struggle. The Cavs shot over 60 percent from the field in the third quarter while the Warriors shot 29 percent.

And then in the fourth quarter, Cleveland only shot 42.1 percent but Golden State shot an abysmal 23.8 percent. After things had been close and both teams played tough, James and Irving kept playing like great players do in elimination games.

As Draymond Green was suspended from game 5, it seems as if James took advantage of facing anyone else but Green. Andrew Bogut also came out early in the third quarter with a knee injury, which effected the Warriors defensive presence.

In place of Green, Andre Iguodala had a solid game finishing with 15 points, 11 rebounds and six assists. Thompson finished with a team high of 37 points as the forward was 11 for 20 from the field with six threes. Thompson was nine of nine from the charity stripe.

MVP Steph Curry scored 25, but the James and Irving were simply too much.

James and Irving became the first pair of teammates to score 40 or more points in a Finals game. With Kevin Love playing poorly, the duo was the reason Cleveland is sending the series to a game 6.

James and Irving scored 41 points apiece. James grabbed 16 rebounds and tallied seven assists shooting 16-30 from the field. James’ jumper looked smooth and the Warriors had no answer on the defensive end.

Irving also had six assists and incredibly knocked down  17 of 24 shots from the field.

As the final horn sounded, the Cavs defeated Golden State 112-97. Cleveland shot 53 percent from the field for the game and the Warriors just shot over 36 percent.

Tonight, the Warriors struggled to find their shot from beyond the arc, which is usually how they take the lead and maintain it.

Heading back to Cleveland, the Warriors should be excited to get after it in hopes of grabbing their second championship in as many years. Golden State will have Green back and more news is to come regarding Bogut.

The Warriors are going to need to find an answer to stop either James or Irving because if both play as well as they did it’s going to make difficult to finish off the series.

Tune in to ABC on Thursday at 6 p.m. PT and be prepared to watch a game full of offensive flurry. Golden State will look to try and finish off their historic season with the greatest prize the NBA has to offer.

Splash Brothers return: Warriors win 108-97

NBA: Finals-Golden State Warriors at Cleveland Cavaliers
Photo Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

By Charlie O. Mallonee

Fans, sports reporters and even other players were asking where had the Splash Brothers gone? Without the dominate play of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, it does not seem possible that the Golden State Warriors could find success on the basketball court. Yet despite the relatively quiet NBA Finals that Curry and Thompson have experienced, the Warriors went into game four on Friday night up 2-1 in the best of seven series.

On Friday night, something happened that made every fan of the Cleveland Cavaliers very unhappy. The Splash Brothers – Curry and Thompson – showed back up in Cleveland in a very big way. Curry and Thompson combined to score 63 of Golden State’s 108 points and they led the Warriors to a 108-97 win to take 3-1 lead in the series as it heads back to the Bay Area.

Stephen Curry – the NBA’s Most Valuable Player – led all scorers with 38 points. He connected on 7-of-13 3-point attempts and shot 11-for-25 overall. Curry converted 9-of-10 free throw opportunities. He also dished out six assists, grabbed five rebounds and had two steals.

Klay Thompson – the other half of the Splash Brothers – put up 25 points against Cleveland on Friday night. Thompson shot 4-for-9 from behind the 3-point line while going 7-for-14 from the floor. He was a perfect 7-for-7 from the free throw line.

LeBron James scored 25 points but did not lead the Cavaliers in scoring. He shot 11-for-21 from the floor but went just 1-for-5 from long distance. James went to the free throw line just four times and converted just two of those opportunities. He hauled in 13 rebounds, distributed nine assists, had three blocked shots and two steals. James also became a little testy with Draymond Green late in the game that resulted in off-setting fouls. The Cavs could have used some of that fire earlier in the game.

Golden State

The Warriors shot 47.2-percent (17-for-36) from beyond the 3-point line. Those 17 3-point baskets set a new NBA Playoff single game record for conversions from downtown. Harrison Barnes hit four 3-pointers while Andre Iguodala added two of his own.

Golden State outrebounded the Cavaliers 43-40. Draymond Green led the Warriors with 12 rebounds.

The Warriors had six blocked shots in the game and Draymond Green had three of those.

Golden State posted 23 assists and turned the ball over just nine times to exceed the magic 2:1 ratio. The Warriors gave up just nine points off those nine turnovers.

The Warriors defense was in lock down mode especially in the second half on Friday night. They held the Cavs to just 24.0-percent (6-for-25) from 3-point range. Golden State forced Cleveland to turn the ball over 11 times and scored 18 points off those turnovers. The Cavaliers were held to just 20 points in the fourth quarter of the game.

Cleveland

Kyrie Irving led the Cavs scoring attack on Friday night with 34 points. He shot 14-for-28 from the floor and 2-for-6 from long distance. Irving had four rebounds and four assists in the game.

Kevin Love returned to the series after missing game three with concussion symptoms. Love did not start the game but he did play 25 minutes. He scored 11 points shooting 3-for-6 from the floor including one 3-point basket. Love also had five rebounds.

Tristan Thompson and JR Smith had 10 points each in the game.

The Cavaliers shot just 57.7-percent (15-for-26) from the free throw line. That statistic will haunt the Cavs over the weekend.

Up next

No team has ever come back from a 3-1 deficit to win the NBA Finals. Teams are 0-32 when trying to make that happen. Now those are some bad odds.

The Cavaliers and Warriors will meet for game five on Monday night in Oakland at Oracle Arena. The Warriors will be trying to win the Larry O’Brien trophy in front of the hometown fans Monday night.

Kings fall to the Cavs 120-111

NBA: Cleveland Cavaliers at Sacramento Kings
Photo Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

By Charlie O. Mallonee

The Cleveland Cavaliers –  featuring “King” LeBron James – rolled into Sacramento on Wednesday to kick off a four-game West Coast swing. If you are a Cavs fan, you were very pleased with the result as Cleveland (45-18) downed the Kings 120 – 111.

The surprise may have been that James was not the star of the game. Kyrie Irving took that role as he scored 30 points shooting 11-for-22 from the floor including three 3-point baskets. Irving hit on five of six tries from the free throw line. He was literally at the right place at the right time for the Cavs for the entire game.

It was a hard fought contest that featured eight lead changes and eight ties. The Kings led at halftime 60 – 54. Then came the third quarter and one of the Kings dreaded “black holes”.

Cleveland outscored the Kings 35 – 24 in the third period. The Cavs shot 13-for-20 from the floor and hit on five of eight 3-point attempts. They out rebounded the Kings 11 – 7. The quarter ended with Cleveland leading 89 – 84 and they would never look back.

The Kings (25-38) put up a good fight in the fourth quarter and cut the Cleveland lead to three points with 2:37 remaining in the game. The Cavs used their offensive rebounding ability to get second and third chance shots to run away with the game.

Kings

The Kings were led by DeMarcus Cousins’ 29 points. The Kings big man had to fight for those points as he shot just 8-for-22 from the floor. He struggled from the free throw line going 12-for-18 from the stripe. Cousins missed the front end of a two shot opportunity from line five times in the second half. It was another double-double game for Cousins as he pulled down 11 rebounds.

Rudy Gay had a good night for Sacramento scoring 19 points, grabbing six rebounds and dishing out three assist in 41-minutes of playing time.

Darren Collison started in the place of the injured Ben McLemore and scored 15 points. Collison alternated with Rondo on the point and distributed eight assists and added two steals.

Rajon Rondo did not have a great night for the Kings. He scored 11 points and had six assists but seemed frustrated all night long by the defense of Irving and JR Smith.

Omri Casspi scored 13 points while Caron Butler added seven, Kosta Koufos five and Willie Cauley-Stein four points.

Sacramento shot 47.6-percent (40-for-84) from the field and hit eight of 22 (36.4-percent) of their 3-point shots. The Kings struggled from the free throw line making just 23 of 32 opportunities (71.9-percent) from the charity line.

The Kings were out rebounded 51 – 38. They gave up 15 offensive rebounds to the Cavs. That is just too many second-chance opportunities to give a team as powerful as Cleveland.

Turnovers were not a problem for Sacramento. The Kings gave up just six points off 10 turnovers in the game.

Cavaliers

Kyrie Irving had plenty of help on his way to a 30 – point night. All five of the Cleveland starters finished in double digits.

James scored 25 points. Tristan Thompson – who started for the ill Timofey Mazgov – put up 18 points and added 15 rebounds. Kevin Love scored 17 points despite shooting just 4-for-13 from the floor. JR Smith added 15 points.

The Cavs shot 43.3-percent (39-for-90) for the game. They went 13-for-44 from beyond the 3-point line. Cleveland took advantage of their opportunities from the free throw line converting 29 of 35 opportunities.

The Cavaliers turned the ball over 14 times which resulted in nine points for the Kings.

What they said after the game

“We play good teams. We do a lot of good things for extended periods of time then we hit a black hole or it seems like we run short,” said Kings head coach George Karl. “They didn’t miss a lot of shots, even in the fourth quarter, but it was the offensive rebounds, scramble situations where we didn’t come up for the loose balls. It’s kind of frustrating. We’re playing pretty damn good basketball at times; (we) just don’t have that edge or that finishing way of winning a game against them.”

“Well coming into the game we said we want to play with pace but we know this team plays at a great pace,” said Cleveland head man Tyronn Lue. “Number one in pace. I think second in fast break points so we don’t want to get out there and get wild. I think the team kind of misunderstood what I was saying so in the third quarter we want to play at our pace. We want to attack downhill. We want to get easy open three’s. We want to get to the basket. If we don’t have it, then pull it out and run something. I thought in that third quarter they scored but we were able to score also. We scored fast.”

Up next

The Kings will practice on Thursday and return to action on Friday night when they host the Orlando Magic in Sacramento.

Cleveland travels to Los Angeles where they will face the Lakers on Thursday night. That will be the second game of the doubleheader on TNT.