CLEVELAND — Stephen Curry scored 35 points in three quarters, Andre Iguodala added 20 and the Golden State Warriors returned to the floor where they 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 and bounced back from a shocking loss in Detroit over the weekend by winning their fifth straight over Cleveland.
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Only a late flurry of points helped the Cavs avoid their worst home loss in franchise history.
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.”
All the Warriors seemed to smell was blood as they overwhelmed the Cavs, who lost at Golden State 89-83 on Christmas Day and could do little to stop the defending champions.
LeBron James scored 16 for Cleveland, just back from going 5-1 on its longest road trip this season. Like last season’s Finals, James didn’t have much help. Kyrie Irving had 8 points on 3-of-11 shooting and Kevin Love had three points in 21 forgettable minutes.
Even though Cleveland is healthier now than it was 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. Soon after, James was whistled for a technical after he tangled with Golden State’s Festus Ezeli.
Draymond Green added 16 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists for the Warriors.
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, triggering some boos directed at the home team.
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. Curry was on the bench with his third personal foul when Green drained the Warriors’ 10th 3-pointer to push their lead to 30.
The Warriors didn’t cool off at halftime and kept pressing the tempo, opening a 43-point lead and perhaps sending a message to the Cavs that taking their belt won’t be easy should they meet in the Finals again.
Warriors: Interim coach Luke Walton said returning to Cleveland was special for the team. “It was a nice feeling walking through the halls and into that locker room, where we had good memories last year,” he said. ... Golden State has won nine of the past 11 games in Cleveland. ... The Warriors, who were beaten 113-95 by the Pistons on Saturday, 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. ... Before the game, Cavs coach David Blatt said there’s no plan to increase Anderson Varejao’s minutes anytime soon. Varejao, though, got some extended time against the Warriors, playing 17. ... 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.