OAKLAND, Calif. — Coming off their Game 1 scare, the Warriors put their thrilling Western Conference finals win over the Rockets behind them and got down to the business of finishing the job in the NBA Finals. They jumped on the Cavaliers and never let up on their way to a 122-103 Game 2 victory that put the prospect of a sweep back into play.
The Warriors broke it open with a dominant fourth quarter as Stephen Curry scored 13 points in a 21-10 run that pushed the Warriors’ lead to 111-93. He was 4-for-4 from three-point range in that stretch, including a 28-foot desperation heave that barely beat the shot clock before it swished and a corner three that turned into a four-point play when he was fouled.
Curry wound up scoring 16 of his 33 points in the fourth quarter, going 5-for-5 from three-point range, and added eight assists. His nine three-pointers set a Finals record.
Reflecting on the series of shots by Curry in the key run, teammate Klay Thompson said his favorite was the heave that beat the clock. “When there was about seven seconds left on the [shot] clock, he just kept going backwards,” Thompson said. “He just threw it up, and I didn’t think it had any chance of going in. That was kind of like a dagger shot, and it gave us all the momentum back. It hit nothing but net, and that was a very good sight to see.”
Curry explained that he lost his dribble and then retreated to get space between himself and Cavs forward Kevin Love. “I try all sorts of shots at some point or another, but at that point, it’s just feel and letting it go. Thankfully, it went in,’’ he said. “A big moment where we had a significant lead. We could extend it a little bit and create some separation down the stretch. It was a cool moment for sure.”
After playing the first 43 minutes of the game, Cavaliers superstar LeBron James finally sat down with victory out of reach. He was one rebound short of a triple-double with 29 points, nine rebounds and 13 assists, but that represented a major win for the Golden State defense after he scored 51 points in Game 1.
The Cavs also got 22 points and 10 rebounds from Love and 15 points from George Hill.
The Warriors received 26 points, nine rebounds and seven assists from Kevin Durant, 20 points from Thompson and a combined 22 from JaVale McGee and Shaun Livingston on combined 11-for-11 shooting. The Warriors shot 57.3 percent from the field and held the Cavs to 40.9 percent.
When the game began, the Warriors set an aggressive tone, but it began at the offensive end. They made their first seven shots, including six layups or dunks, to take a 15-6 lead. That determination to attack the basket carried over to the defensive end, too.
After that initial burst, the Cavs never got closer than four points in the first half and trailed by as many as 15 points before moving within 59-46 at halftime.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr credited Durant for his defensive work containing James, but he also got double-team help whenever James ventured into the post.
“Defensively, he was fantastic tonight,” Kerr said of Durant. “He’s always going to score. It’s about the defensive intensity. I thought he set a really good tone for us with his defense early in the game.”
Now the Cavs have to regroup for Game 3 Wednesday in Cleveland.
“We’ve got an opportunity to go home, and we played some really good basketball on our home floor,” James said. “But that shouldn’t give us any comfort.”