Warriors rebound, rout Cavs 103-82, even finals
Golden State held LeBron James scoreless in the fourth quarter and pulled away for a 103-82 win at Cleveland on Thursday to tie the NBA Finals at 2-2. Andre Iguodala scored 22 points in a surprise start, league MVP Stephen Curry also had 22, and Draymond Green returned to form with 17 points, seven rebounds and six assists as the Warriors avoided going down to a perilous 3-1 series deficit.
“Tonight we came in with the mentality that we had to win this game,” said Curry.
James scored 20 points — 21 under his average in the series — with 12 rebounds and eight assists, and to make matters worse for Cleveland’s megastar, he needed stitches to his head after falling onto a TV camera in the first half.
Game 5 is Sunday at Oakland’s rambunctious Oracle Arena, where the teams split two overtime games last week. This wasn’t quite make-or-break for the Warriors, but it was close, as none of the 32 teams which have fallen behind 3-1 in the finals has won a title.
“We played desperate out there, man,” Klay Thompson said. “We played real hungry. It was just awesome to come out here and impose our will on both sides of the ball and play our brand of basketball. That’s what’s been winning us games all year.”
Timofey Mozgov led Cleveland with 28 points and guard Matthew Dellavedova, again battling leg cramps after a hospital stay for dehydration, had 10.
The Cavs shot just 2 of 18 from the field and were outscored 27-12 in the fourth quarter. They also got nothing from their bench as J.R. Smith missed all eight 3-point attempts and Cleveland’s reserves combined to score seven points.
“Offensively we were terrible,” James said, noting the Cavs were 4 of 27 on 3-pointers. “Sometimes your offense just doesn’t show up.”
Missing All-Stars Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving, the Cavs didn’t have enough firepower and their legs were heavy after playing three games in five days against the relentless Warriors.
“We’re in a three-game series for the NBA Finals,” coach David Blatt said. “Six months ago I would have bought that. We’ve got to go back to the drawing board, go back to work, play the best basketball we can and try to win this thing.”
Golden State showed a sense of urgency from the outset. Iguodala, who played so well coming off the bench in the first three games, made his first start this season and made coach Steve Kerr’s decision look brilliant.
Known for his defense, Iguodala drained four 3-pointers, kept James in check and Curry, who finally found his range in the fourth quarter of Game 3, also dropped four 3s, including a deep dagger in the fourth over Shumpert to end any thought the Cavaliers had of a comeback.
Iguodala made things tough on James, who went 7 of 22 from the field and 5 of 10 from the free-throw line.
“Make him work as hard as possible,” Iguodala said of his plan on James. “Make him take tough shots. You look at his strengths, you look at his weaknesses, and you try to take him out of his comfort zone. Easier said than done, but we all have a lot of talent and when we go out there we want to make our stamp on the game.”
Since losing Game 3, the Warriors vowed to use the experience they gained when rallying from a 2-1 deficit against Memphis in the Western Conference semifinals.
“It’s just a street fight,” Green said. “Nobody’s doing anything dirty, but they’re battling and we’re battling and that’s why this series is so exciting.”
Looking for a spark, Kerr decided to go “small” with his starting lineup, putting Iguodala at forward, moving Green to center and benching struggling big man Andrew Bogut. Kerr initially said he wouldn’t make any changes, but went with a lineup that worked well late in Game 3, when the Warriors scored 36 points and trimmed a 20-point deficit to one.
Kerr got the result he wanted, but only after the Warriors withstood an early flurry from the Cavs, who scored the game’s first seven points.
“You’ve got to take a chance with the situation we were in tonight,” Curry said.
Golden State Warriors guard Andre Iguodala #9 goes up for a dunk over Cleveland Cavaliers forward James Jones #1 during the first half of Game 4 of basketball’s NBA Finals in Cleveland, Ohio on Thursday, June 11.