Warriors hand LeBron James perhaps worst loss of career, top Cavs by 34
Stephen Curry didn’t smell champagne. Blood was in the air.
Curry scored 35 points in three quarters, Andre Iguodala added 20 and Golden State returned to the arena where it won the NBA championship last season and embarrassed the Cleveland Cavaliers 132-98 on Monday night.
The Warriors built a 30-point lead in the first half, pushed their advantage to 43 after halftime and bounced back from a shocking loss in Detroit over the weekend by winning their fifth straight over Cleveland.
Only a late flurry of points helped the Cavs avoid their worst home loss in franchise history.
"They came in and gave us an old-fashioned a-kicking," LeBron James said. "They did what they wanted."
Curry made seven 3-pointers — his last put the Warriors ahead by 40 late in the third quarter — and the reigning league MVP seemed right at home in Quicken Loans Arena, where the Warriors clinched their first title since 1975 last June. On Sunday, Curry said he hoped the visitor’s locker room "still smells a little bit like champagne."
That aroma had long dissipated, but the Warriors looked thirsty for more bubbly.
Curry downplayed his champagne boast.
"The last time I was there we had a trophy, we had champagne and we had goggles," Curry said, recalling last season’s Game 6. "We had a good time."
With Curry leading the charge, the Warriors overwhelmed the Cavs, who lost at Golden State 89-83 on Christmas Day and could do little to stop the defending champions.
James scored 16 for Cleveland, which just went 5-1 on its longest road trip this season. And like last season’s Finals, James didn’t have much help. Kyrie Irving had eight points on 3-of-11 shooting and Kevin Love had three points in 21 forgettable minutes.
"Against the top teams you want to play well and we haven’t done that. We’re 0-3," James said of Cleveland’s record against Golden State and San Antonio, the West’s top powers. "Tonight was an example of how far we have to go to win a championship."
Even though Cleveland is healthier now than in December, an expected battle between two of the league’s best teams never materialized. This one belonged to Golden State from beginning to end.
A frustrating night for the Cavs bubbled over in the third quarter when J.R. Smith lowered his shoulder and charged into Harrison Barnes, flattening the Warriors forward. Smith, who arrived at the arena less than an hour before tip-off, was called for a Flagrant 2 foul and ejected.
Cavs coach David Blatt said he was not aware of Smith’s tardiness.
"If that’s so, it’s not a good thing for sure," Blatt said.
Smith was gone when Cleveland’s locker room opened for reporters.
Draymond Green added 16 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists for the Warriors, who rested their starters in the fourth.
Curry quickly reminded an amped-up Cleveland crowd what he did to the Cavs last summer by burying a 3-pointer on his first shot. He made three more long-range shots in the first quarter while the Warriors opened a 34-21 lead.
Golden State was just warming up.
Green’s 3-pointer put the Warriors up by 16, and Curry scored a three-point play to give Golden State a 23-point lead.
On Cleveland’s next possession, James was backing down in the lane when Curry came up from behind, stripped the ball and went the length of the floor for an easy layup to make it 57-32.
"They definitely played like champions," Irving said.
Before Green entered the NBA, James was confident the former Michigan State star would succeed as a pro.
"I knew one thing: Whatever team got him was going to get a very smart, complete guy," James said. "Any guy who is able to get a triple-double in the college game, that means a lot. He has all the intangibles."
Blatt took responsibility for his team not being prepared.
"We just got beat down," he said.
Warriors: Interim coach Luke Walton has rarely seen his team play better. "The first three quarters, that’s who we know we can be," Walton said. "They were absolutely phenomenal. We can’t really ask to play much better than that." … Golden State has won nine of the past 11 in Cleveland. … The Warriors snapped a two-game road losing streak and improved to 38-4 overall.
Cavaliers: James remains non-committal about playing for the U.S. men’s Olympic team in Rio this summer. James, Irving and Love were among 30 finalists chosen to try out. "I’m not any inch closer to playing or not any inch closer to not playing," said James, who has won two gold medals. … Cleveland’s worst home loss came against Chicago in 2012, a 39-point drubbing.
Warriors: At Chicago on Wednesday night.
Cavaliers: At Brooklyn on Wednesday night.