Curry bounces back in blowout, wins point guard battle with Irving

Curry bounces back in blowout, wins point guard battle with Irving

OAKLAND -- No one among the Warriors had a deeper desire to beat the Cavaliers than Stephen Curry, and his performance Monday gave every indication that he wanted it as badly as he needed it.

And after losing the point-guard battle to Cleveland’s Kyrie Irving in four successive games, all Warriors losses, it was past time for Curry as the back-to-back MVP to stand up and make a statement.

His response was impressive: 20 points (7-of-20 shooting), 11 assists, four steals and a 126-91 rout by the Warriors. He was plus-23 over 31 minutes.

“He was making shots, it’s as simple as that,” Irving said. “In transition, off pick-and-rolls, doing what he does and that makes him a great player.”

Irving’s response: 17 points (6-of-19 shooting), two assists and a game-high-tying (with teammate LeBron James) six turnovers. Irving was minus-12 over 29 minutes.

“Steph was great,” coach Steve Kerr said. “A phenomenal first half, I think he had 10 assists. His energy was great and he set the tone. He put a lot of pressure on the defense.”

Curry has been playing with renewed vigor lately, his mentality changing shortly after the Warriors on Christmas Day in Cleveland blew a 14-point lead in the fourth quarter, taking a 109-108 loss. Curry took only 11 shots, scoring 15 points.

He was particularly good in the first half, scoring 14 points on 5-of-11 shooting, with 10 assists and three steals. Curry clearly came to destroy.

“It was a great way to start, just a foot on the gas pedal,” Curry said.

Curry’s game, along with the victory, may silence some of the narrative suggesting the Cavaliers have his number. Though he was displeased with one aspect of his game, Curry happily accepted the outcome. Or that Irving hadn't caught up to him.

“I obviously wanted to play well; I didn’t want to walk off the floor with anything more than what I think is a solid, aggressive game,” he said. “I didn’t shoot the ball as well as I wanted to. Some shots I normally make didn’t go down.

But I can live with that knowing I took care of the other stuff I was supposed to do on the floor. Really, what was all in my head was that I definitely wanted to leave this arena tonight with a solid performance and obviously get the win.”

Instant Replay: Warriors end drought vs Cavs in dominant fashion

Instant Replay: Warriors end drought vs Cavs in dominant fashion

BOX SCORE

OAKLAND -- The Warriors got a measure of revenge Monday, and it wasn’t enough to simply beat the Cleveland Cavaliers.

No, they annihilated the Cavs, rolling to a tip-to-buzzer 126-91 victory before a roaring sellout crowd at Oracle Arena.

Six Warriors scored in double figures, with Klay Thompson putting in 26 points to lead the way. Kevin Durant tossed in 21 points, Stephen Curry 20, Andre Iguodala a season-high 14, Shaun Livingston a season-high 13, and Draymond Green added 11.

The Warriors (35-6), who took a 109-108 loss to the Cavs on Christmas Day in Cleveland, evened the season series at one game apiece and snapped a four-game losing streak to the Cavs, dating back to Game 5 of the NBA Finals last June.

The Warriors committed 15 turnovers, but held Cleveland to seven points off the giveaways. Moreover, the Warriors clobbered the brawny Cavs on the glass, outrebounding them 58-35.

LeBron James scored 20 points to lead the Cavaliers (29-11), who were limited to 35.2-percent shooting from the field.

STANDOUT PERFORMER

On a night when most everybody was magnificent, special mention goes to Green for his spirit, his statistics and also his ability to knock James off his game.

Green posted his third triple-double of the season. His line: 11 points (4-of-6 shooting from the field, 3-of-4 from the line, 13 rebounds, 11 assists and a career-high-tying five blocks). He played 35 minutes and finished plus-43.

TURNING POINT

After Cleveland got within five at 19-14 with 4:41 remaining in the first quarter, the Warriors responded with a 23-8 run to go up 42-22 with 11:17 left in the second quarter.

The Warriors outscored the Cavaliers 41-27 in the first half and took a 78-49 lead at intermission.

The Cavs got no closer than 22 (99-77, 10:06 remaining) in the second half.

INJURY UPDATE

Warriors: No injuries were listed and none was reported.

Cavaliers: G J.R. Smith (R thumb fracture) and F/C Chris Andersen (R ACL surgery) were listed as out.

WHAT’S NEXT

The Warriors return to action Wednesday night, when they face the Oklahoma City Thunder at Oracle Arena. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:30.

NBA Gameday: Warriors welcome Cavaliers with vengeance in mind

NBA Gameday: Warriors welcome Cavaliers with vengeance in mind

OAKLAND -- With the Christmas Day Collapse lingering about the back of their minds, the Warriors are out for vengeance against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

When the teams meet Monday for a late-afternoon Matinee on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the Warriors will be trying to end a four-game losing streak to the Cavs, who came from behind for a 109-108 win on Christmas Day in Cleveland.

The Warriors (34-6) hope to benefit from the sellout crowd at Oracle Arena, where they have been nearly invincible over the past two-plus seasons. They are 95-7 at home since coach Steve Kerr arrived before 2014-15 season.

The Cavaliers (29-10) are making the final stop of a six-game road trip that spanned 12 days in three different time zones.

BETTING LINE

Warriors by 7.5

MATCHUPS TO WATCH

Stephen Curry vs. Kyrie Irving: Though they don’t always defend each other, each point guard is his team’s catalyst. Irving has been winning this battle of late, and the result is success for Cleveland. Curry is playing well of late, better than Irving. If that trend continues Monday, the Warriors will take their chances.

Kevin Durant and LeBron James: Durant was superb on Christmas Day, clearly outplaying James until the final quarter, when he melted down with his teammates, missing seven of his last nine shots. James seized the moment, leading his team to victory. Nothing would please the Warriors more than KD getting the best of James.

INJURY REPORT

Warriors: No injuries listed.

Cavaliers: G J.R. Smith (R thumb fracture) and F/C Chris Andersen (R ACL surgery) are listed as out.

LAST 10

Warriors: 8-2. Cavaliers: 6-4.

SERIES HISTORY

The Warriors lost the previous meeting this season and, including the last three games of the 2016 NBA Finals, have lost four straight. They are 10-8 (including postseason) against Cleveland since James returned before the 2014-15 season.

THREE THINGS TO WATCH

THE START: In winning their last three games, all against sub-.500 teams, the Warriors cruised through the first half and didn’t get serious until the third quarter. That formula would be particularly dangerous against a defending champion. A faster start is called for, and the Warriors know it.

THE GLASS: What killed the Warriors in the Christmas Day Collapse, perhaps as much as turnovers, was Cleveland’s relentless work on the offensive glass. The Cavs piled up 18 offensive rebounds, leading to 17 additional shot attempts. If the Warriors can’t do a better job, it could be disastrous.

THE 3-BALL WAR: The Warriors rank fourth in 3-point shooting percentage; the Cavs are third. The Warriors rank fifth in attempts from beyond the arc; the Cavs are third. Cleveland put up more triples, with more accuracy, on Christmas Day. But . . . the Warriors are No. 1 in defense against triples, while the Cavs are 14th.