Golden State Warriors win playoff-type game over Cleveland Cavaliers
OAKLAND, Calif. -- Put a postseason-type matchup in the NBA regular season and you get a postseason-type game.Complete with the same postseason-type result.Turning up the defensive intensity much like they did in last season's NBA Finals and gett...
OAKLAND, Calif. - Put a postseason-type matchup in the NBA regular season and you get a postseason-type game.
Complete with the same postseason-type result.
Turning up the defensive intensity much like they did in last season’s NBA Finals and getting two key late hoops by star guard Stephen Curry, the Golden State Warriors outlasted the Cleveland Cavaliers 89-83 in a Christmas Day rematch of the championship series Friday.
“Getting comfortable being uncomfortable,” Warriors backup guard Shaun Livingston said of the low-scoring affair. “That’s our style.”
That was clear in last year’s Finals, when the Warriors limited the Cavaliers to 93.2 points per game in grinding out a 4-2 win in the best-of-7 series.
And they did it again Friday, when the team with the best record in the NBA (28-1) harassed Cleveland into 31.6-percent shooting, including just 5 for 30 accuracy from 3-point range.
“You got to knock down shots to beat a team like that,” Cavaliers coach David Blatt said. “We wanted to play this game a certain way in this gym against this particular team. We were getting shots. No complaints on my part.”
Power forward Draymond Green had 22 points, 15 rebounds, seven assists and two blocked shots to lead the Warriors, who captured their 14th straight home win this season and 32nd in a row at home in the regular season dating back to last year.
The Cavaliers (19-8) were the last team to beat the Warriors in Oakland in a similarly paced, 95-93 overtime affair in Game 2 of June’s Finals.
This one was headed down a similar path until Curry, who missed nine of his first 13 shots, denied a LeBron James-led charge down the stretch.
“We came out defensively and we did what we were supposed to do,” Curry said. “We were a little off offensively. But if we can (defend like that), that’s what helped us in the playoffs last year, that’s what’s helped us get to this record this year.”
James had 25 points, but it took him 26 shots, for Cleveland, which got used to winning these types of games. The Cavaliers brought the best record in the Eastern Conference into the showdown in part because it hadn’t lost this season - and in fact for 31 games in a row - when holding an opponent to 96 points or fewer.
Curry’s game-saving baskets came after James almost single-handedly had gotten the Cavaliers, down by 10 with 3 minutes, 48 seconds to go, back within 81-77 with 2:15 left.
Curry drove past Cavaliers backup Matthew Dellavedova for layups with 1:19 and 57.6 seconds remaining, re-establishing an 85-80 lead the Warriors were able to protect with four late free throws.
On a night when the Warriors shot just 41 percent and failed to score 100 points for the first time in 48 games, they won despite Curry’s 6 for 15 shooting.
He finished with 19 points.
“We don’t believe we’re going to make a statement with one game,” Warriors interim coach Luke Walton said. “Overall, we’re 28-1. That’s more of a statement.”
By far the most efficient offensive player in the game was Livingston, who hit eight of his nine shots en route to a season-best 16 points.
Eight of those points came on four consecutive hoops early in the fourth quarter as the Warriors, who led almost the entire game, were struggling to keep the Cavaliers at arm’s length.
“They were great,” Walton said of Livingston and defensive ace Andre Iguodala, who spent a majority of his 30 minutes going head-to-head with James. “They are such a huge part of our success. They understand the game and know how to win.”
Shooting guard Klay Thompson, who, like Curry, made only one 3-pointer, added 18 points for the Warriors, who opened a five-game homestand with four straight wins.
Forward Kevin Love, another who struggled big-time offensively (5 for 16), contributed 10 points and a game-high 18 rebounds for the Cavaliers, who were playing the opener of a four-game Western swing. Cleveland moves on to play Saturday night at Portland.
“There was a lot of little things as far as the shots were concerned that on another day it doesn’t happen,” Blatt said of his team’s shooting woes. “That did catch up with us.”
A driving hoop by Green gave Golden State its largest lead of the game, 81-71, with 3:48 to play.
James immediately countered by slamming home dunks on consecutive possessions, then had a driving miss tipped in by Love, rallying the Cavaliers within 81-77 with 2:14 to go.
But then James, with a chance to cut the gap to two, missed a pair of free throws with 1:33 left, after which Curry’s hoops slammed the door on the visitors.
The Cavaliers missed four free throws in the final 1:33.
“Those types of games are going to happen in the playoffs where it’s tough to score and tough to get into that high flowing offense,” Walton said. “It’s good to practice and get experience in that type of game.”
Butler leads Bulls to win over Thunder
Guard Jimmy Butler scored 23 points to lead the Chicago Bulls to a 105-96 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday.
Butler shot 9 of 20 from the field to go along with six rebounds and four assists. Center Pau Gasol added 21 points and 13 boards for the Bulls.
“It’s a great win obviously,” said Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg, who was criticized earlier this week by Butler for not coaching them hard enough.
“The biggest thing we were looking for was to come out and play hard, Play with effort, play together.
“We did all those things. Obviously, it was a tough week after a really good week. We needed something like this to show our guys how good we can be.”
Thunder forward Kevin Durant led all scorers with 29 points and collected nine rebounds and seven assists.
Guard Russell Westbrook tallied 26 points, eight assists and seven rebounds.
Center Enes Kanter was the only other Thunder player to hit double figures with 14 points for Oklahoma City.
“Man, we didn’t have any energy to start the game or to start the third quarter,” Durant said. “And they got us. I have no clue (why), man.”
Trailing by 18 going into the fourth quarter, the Thunder put their best offensive unit on the floor with Durant, Westbrook, Ibaka, center Kanter and guard Anthony Morrow quickly closing the gap to 12 with 6:59 left in the game.
After a layup by Chicago rookie forward Bobby Portis, Morrow drained successive 3-pointers to reduce the deficit to 97-89 with 4:46 remaining.
Butler hit a pair of free throws to calm down the Thunder run but Kanter responded with a putback off a Westbrook missed shot.
After another defensive stop, Westbrook knocked down a 14-foot jumper and Oklahoma City were down 99-93 with 3:42 remaining.
Butler once again went to the foul line and buried a pair of free throws. Forward Serge Ibaka was called for an offensive foul and Gasol made them pay with a layup at the other end to give Chicago a 10-point lead that put the game away.
Heat handle Pelicans in overtime
Forward Chris Bosh scored a game-high 30 points and grabbed 10 rebounds to lead the Miami Heat to a 94-88 overtime home victory over the New Orleans Pelicans.
Bosh’s 30 points matched his season high.
Miami guard Dwyane Wade, who scored 19 points, improved to 10-1 on Christmas Day. That’s the best record in NBA history for any player who has played at least 10 Christmas games.
The Heat (17-11) have won seven straight Christmas games.
Pelicans forward Anthony Davis delivered a big performance with 29 points and 15 rebounds, but missed a long corner jumper just before the buzzer that could have won the game in regulation.