Two games have been played in the NBA Finals and Golden State is halfway to its third championship in four years after last Sunday night’s 122-103 mauling of Cleveland at Oracle Arena.
Stephen Curry, a point guard and two-time league Most Valuable Player, led the offensive charge with a game-best 33 points that included nine three-pointers, erasing the single game Finals record held by Ray Allen.
“We can’t let outside distractions get to us,’’ said Curry, who handed out a team-best eight assists with seven rebounds. “We have to play like we do and not let anything take us out of what we do.’’
Golden State, the defending champion, led after every quarter including 32-28 heading into the second period.
Curry’s 16 points helped push the Warriors into a 59-46 advantage at halftime.
Cleveland small forward LeBron James (game-high 13 assists with nine boards) had 15 of his team-best 29 points at the break while power forward Kevin Love (game-high 10 caroms) dropped in seven of his 22 points.
Love’s 13 points in the third stanza saw Cleveland (37 of 90 for 41.1 percent) outscore Golden State 34-31, but it still trailed 90-80 entering the fourth period.
With 6:28 left in the third quarter, the Cavaliers sliced the deficit to 72-66 on a layup from center Tristan Thompson (11 points with five rebounds).
Shooting guard Klay Thompson tossed in 20 points for the Warriors, who shot 57.3 percent (47 of 82).
Golden State small forward and last season’s Finals MVP, Kevin Durant (nine caroms and seven assists) had 22 of his 26 points after three quarters.
A key mental mistake likely cost Cleveland an opportunity to win Game 1 last Thursday when shooting guard J.R. Smith (10 points with six boards) snatched a rebound after a missed free throw by teammate George Hill (seven points), a point guard, and dribbled away most of the 4.7 seconds left with the score 107-107.
Had Smith shot or even been fouled, the visiting Cavaliers (44.4 percent on 44 of 99) would have avoided overtime which saw Golden State (46 of 90 for 51.1 percent) outscore Cleveland 17-7 and earn a 124-114 victory.
All this transpired as James scored a postseason-best 51 points and became one of five players with 50 points or more in the Finals.
Offsetting James’ incredible performance was Curry’s 29 points and 26 points from Durant (nine rebounds and six assists).
Cleveland dashed in front 30-29 entering the second period, but a 38-foot three-pointer from Curry (co-game-high nine assists with six rebounds) just before halftime evened it at 56-56.
When James (team-best eight assists and eight caroms) hit a trey with 5:26 left in the third period, it was tied at 68-68.
Rick Assad has written about sports for the Pasadena Star-News and Los Angeles Times. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.