Cavs get hammered in Game 2, Love leaves with concussion
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) Kevin Love lay on the court grabbing the back of his head after taking an elbow from Harrison Barnes.
The Cleveland Cavaliers forward tried to gut it out before pulling himself from the game. And the Golden State Warriors may have delivered the knockout blow in the NBA Finals as well.
Love was limited to 20 minutes because of the head injury and the Cavaliers were taken apart in a 110-77 loss on Sunday night to fall behind 2-0 in the series.
LeBron James had 19 points, nine assists, eight rebounds and seven turnovers, and the Cavaliers now head back to Cleveland with a mountain to climb. And it's unclear whether Love will be available to help.
''It's hard for me to pinpoint what's not working and what could work right now,'' James said. ''Obviously not much is working.''
Barnes hit Love in the back of the head with an inadvertent elbow while going for a rebound in the second quarter. Love was on the ground grabbing the back of his head for several minutes and was examined on the bench during the ensuing timeout.
He returned to the game, finished the first half and started the second half before heading back to the locker room. The NBA said he experienced dizziness after playing in the third quarter and has been placed in the league's concussion protocol.
The league and the Cavaliers say Love and did not immediately exhibit symptoms of a concussion in the first half or at halftime that would have caused him to be removed immediately.
Love missed the final seven games of the 2011-12 season with the Minnesota Timberwolves because of a concussion. Game 3 is not until Wednesday, so he has two days to be fully evaluated and examined. He finished the game with five points on 2-for-7 shooting in just under 21 minutes.
''Losing one of our top three players is always going to be a big impact,'' coach Tyronn Lue said. ''But right now he's in a concussion protocol and he's just day to day.''
Kyrie Irving had 10 points and missed nine of his 14 shots while also getting torched on the defensive end of the floor. He is 12 for 36 in the first two games.
''I'm not disappointed in our guys or frustrated,'' James said. ''We've just got to do a better job. We've got to be better at all facets, both physically and mentally.''
Love did not play for the Cavaliers in the finals last season because of a shoulder injury, and his presence this year along with a healthy Irving had the Cavs hopeful the result would be different this time around.
Even with a fully healthy roster this time, they were going to be underdogs in a series against the defending champions, who set the single-season record for wins with 73.
But now the task of delivering the first sports championship to Cleveland in 52 years seems much more daunting.
Of the 31 teams who have taken a 2-0 lead in the finals, 28 have won the title. The Miami Heat were the last team to rally from an 0-2 hole in the finals when they beat Dallas in 2006.
Lue spent the previous two days trying to get his Cavaliers to pick up the pace in hopes that the transition opportunities would create easier shots and increase the ball movement around the perimeter.
It wound up playing right into Golden State's hands, and the Warriors were only too happy to put their foot on the gas. They were careless with the ball, turning it over 21 times, but it didn't matter.
Lue tried a little bit of everything to throw the Warriors off. He put James at center to go small, and the Warriors blitzed them 27-16.
He went to Timofey Mozgov to try to get some size in the paint and the Warriors ran circles around him.
It was Cleveland's seventh straight loss to Golden State and now the Cavs head back to Ohio looking to defend their home court. But they also are facing the possibility that there is nothing they can do to stop this Warriors train that is running them over.
''What we've done these last two games doesn't put a damper or a cloud over what got to us at this point,'' James said. ''We're still here and we still have a chance to turn this thing around.''