Saturday, December 26, 2015

Warriors thump Cavaliers in NBA Finals rematch

MIAMI, United States - Stephen Curry provided a late fourth-quarter lift and the defending champion Golden State Warriors defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers 89-83 Friday in a rematch of last season's NBA Finals.

Reigning NBA Most Valuable Player Curry sank back-to-back driving layups in the final minutes to answer consecutive slam dunks by LeBron James and shut down a Cleveland rally as Golden State improved the best start in NBA history to 28-1.

Curry scored 19 points, grabbed seven rebounds and passed out seven assists while Draymond Green had 22 points, 15 rebounds and seven assists for the Warriors, who also had 18 points from Klay Thompson and 16 more off the bench by Shaun Livingston.

"We want more," Curry said. "We tasted a little bit of success, won a championship, but we have such potential on this team we want to accomplish more. Having the record (start) is great but we want to do a lot more."

The Warriors are on pace to have the winningest record in NBA history and Curry is on pace to break his own record from 3-point baskets in a season.

In a grinding game that produced their lowest scoring game this season, the Warriors improved to 14-0 at home this season with their 32nd overall home victory in a row. They shot only 41 percent from the floor but held Cleveland to 31 percent.

"That was a big win," Curry said. "We came out defensively and did what we were supposed to do. We were a little off offensively but if we can continue to do that, we'll be fine."

Curry missed part of the second quarter after aggravating a right calf injury he suffered Wednesday but said it was only a minor annoyance.

"Nothing serious," Curry said. "I should be back healthy come Tuesday."

James scored 25 points and grabbed nine rebounds but the Cavaliers fell to 19-8, 6-7 on the road, and saw their six-game win streak ended by the same team that beat them four games to two in last June's NBA Finals.

J.R. Smith had 14 points for Cleveland while Kyrie Irving added 13 and Kevin Love and Australian Matthew Dellavedova added 10 points each, Love also pulling down 18 rebounds.

- Butler Did It -

In other Christmas holiday games, Jimmy Butler scored 23 points to power Chicago to a 105-96 upset victory Friday at Oklahoma City while Chris Bosh's 30 points sparked the Miami Heat over New Orleans 94-88 in over-time.

Later contests sent the Los Angeles Clippers against the Los Angeles Lakers and the San Antonio Spurs against Houston.

A week after saying coach Fred Hoiberg was being too soft and laid-back on the Bulls, Butler helped end a three-game losing streak.

"It wasn't part of a plan but whatever works works," Butler said. "I'm going to play with all my might. We've got a great group of guys. If we play hard together, we can do anything."

Butler hit 9-of-20 shots from the field and added six rebounds and four assists for the Bulls, who had 21 points and 13 rebounds from Spanish big man Pau Gasol as Chicago improved to 16-11.

Kevin Durant scored a game-high 29 points with nine rebounds and seven assists to lead Oklahoma City while Russell Westbrook contributed 26 points, eight assists and seven rebounds for the Thunder, who fell to 20-10 with a three-game win streak snapped.

At Miami, the Heat won a seventh consecutive Christmas outing despite shooting a woeful 39.8 percent from the floor.

"We showed a lot of resiliency," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "We'll take this win."

Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry was upset his team managed only two points off of 18 Heat turnovers.

"In 28 years in the NBA, I've never seen that," Gentry said.