It’s a small whirl for War­riors

Golden State uses 6-7 Green at cen­ter and evens se­ries. Cava­liers held to 33% shoot­ing.

Los Angeles Times - - SPORTS - By Mike Bres­na­han

CLEVE­LAND — LeBron James wasn’t un­stop­pable. The Cleve­land Cava­liers fell back to nor­malcy.

The Golden State War­riors sur­prised every­body by start­ing a small lineup and then re­dis­cov­ered their of­fense in a 103-82 victory Thurs­day in Game 4 of the NBA Fi­nals.

The War­riors tied the se­ries at two games each and ripped back home-court ad- van­tage as Stephen Curry scored 22 points and An­dre Iguo­dala matched him with 22 af­ter be­ing pro­moted from re­serve sta­tus for the first time this sea­son. Game 5 is Sun­day at Golden State.

James fell way off his 41point scor­ing av­er­age through the first three games, to­tal­ing only 20 on seven-for-22 shoot­ing in 41 min­utes He was score­less in the fourth quar­ter, tak­ing only two shots.

“I ran through those 12 min­utes in the third quar­ter and was gassed out,” James said.

He didn’t have much help, ob­vi­ously miss­ing in­jured All-Stars Kyrie Irv­ing and Kevin Love.

Cava­liers guard Matthew

Dellave­dova wasn’t ef­fec­tive af­ter be­ing hos­pi­tal­ized two days ear­lier be­cause of cramps and de­hy­dra­tion. He had 10 points on three-for-14 shoot­ing af­ter scor­ing 20 in Game 3.

Cava­liers for­ward Iman Shumpert was also fairly si­lent, scor­ing five points in 39 min­utes while play­ing with a bruised right shoul­der that caused him con­sid­er­able pain in Game 3.

The War­riors were tired of av­er­ag­ing 92 points in their pre­vi­ous two games and shook up their lineup by go­ing very small, mak­ing Dray­mond Green their start­ing cen­ter, all 6 feet 7 of him, and send­ing strug­gling 7-footer An­drew Bogut to the bench. With Iguo­dala in the mix, Golden State’s starters av­er­aged slightly more than 6 feet 6.

War­riors Coach Steve Kerr fibbed a cou­ple of times be­fore the game — at the team’s morn­ing shootaround and then 90 min­utes be­fore tipoff — by say­ing there would be no lineup changes when asked by re­porters.

A se­cret is a se­cret, es­pe­cially in the Fi­nals.

“I lied,” Kerr said. “If I tell the truth, it’s the equiv­a­lent of me knock­ing on [Cava­liers Coach] David Blatt’s door and say­ing, ‘Hey, this is what we’re go­ing to do.’

“Sorry, but I don’t think they hand you the tro­phy based on moral­ity. They give it to you if you win.”

The War­riors looked like win­ners al­most from the start at Quicken Loans Arena.

Af­ter a sur­pris­ing num­ber of poor quar­ters in the se­ries, they un­veiled a 54point first half. Green was a spark in his new role, with 13 points, four re­bounds and three as­sists as Golden State took a 12-point half­time lead.

The Cava­liers didn’t go qui­etly and trailed by only six go­ing into the fourth quar­ter. But then came a 12- point fourth quar­ter from them.

They fin­ished four for 27 from three-point range (14.8%) and shot 33% over­all.

Big men Ti­mofey Moz­gov (28 points, 10 re­bounds) and Tris­tan Thomp­son (12 points, 13 re­bounds) had plenty of suc­cess against the War­riors’ un­der­sized lineup, but there were depth prob­lems for the Cava­liers.

Only two re­serves played un­til the game got out of hand — J.R. Smith and James Jones — and to­taled four points on 15 shots in 44 com­bined min­utes.

Was fa­tigue play­ing a fac- tor? It looked like it.

“The third game in five days, in­clud­ing the trip back from the West Coast, and it seemed to have an im­pact on us, yes,” Blatt said.

James con­tin­ued to play heavy min­utes, as if there was any­thing else he could do. He had 12 re­bounds and eight as­sists.

He went down hard af­ter be­ing fouled by Bogut with 4:43 left in the sec­ond quar­ter. The foul wasn’t overly ag­gres­sive, but James went head­first into a court­side TV cam­era. James im­me­di­ately clutched his head, which was cut, and stayed down a cou­ple of min­utes be­fore even­tu­ally head­ing to the free-throw line, where he made one of two.

“It was hurt­ing. The cam­era cut me pretty bad,” James said, later adding he had a slight headache.

James wasn’t tested for a con­cus­sion, but he re­quired stitches af­ter the game.

Tony De­jak As­so­ci­ated Press

L eBRON JAMES goes to the bas­ket and is fouled by An­drew Bogut dur­ing the sec­ond quar­ter. James suf­fered a cut on his head when he fell and hit a cam­era.

Larry W. Smith Euro­pean Pressphoto Agency

TALK ABOUT GET­TING a leg up. Golden State’s Dray­mond Green comes up with a re­bound in front of Cleve­land’s Ti­mofey Moz­gov and Tris­tan Thomp­son dur­ing the War­riors’ Game 4 victory.


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