War­riors have the mo­men­tum

James has stitches, needs team­mates to step up

Los Angeles Times - - SPORTS - By Mike Bres­na­han

OAK­LAND — Mean­while, there are the Golden State War­riors.

The scorch­ing-hot lime­light can’t leave LeBron James— Is he fa­tigued? Can he win with this rag­tag bunch? How’s his head?— but Golden State tip­toed back into the NBA Fi­nals with a smooth, very War­rior-like Game4.

Stephen Curry is fine, thank you, and the War­riors’ new small-ball lineup might mark the tip­ping point in the se­ries that re­sumes Sun­day with Game 5 at Golden State.

War­riors Coach Steve Kerr doesn’t have to lie about this: Even though the se­ries is tied, the War­riors are back in con­trol, two vic­to­ries from their first cham­pi­onship since1975.

Curry has found his stroke, scor­ing 39 points in the last five quar­ters, and vet­eran An­dre Iguo­dala has been an un­ex­pected boost, join­ing the start­ing lineup for Game 4 and scor­ing 22 points.

It seems pretty ob­vi­ous Dray­mond Green will start again in place of nonex­is­tent 7-footer An­drew Bogut, though Kerr wouldn’t con­firm it. “Yeah, un­for­tu­nately, the dy­nam­ics are pretty tricky,” Kerr said Satur­day. “I’ll just say that I’ve es­tab­lished my pen­chant for ly­ing. So how­ever I an­swer right now, you shouldn’t be­lieve me any­way.”

It wouldn’t be fib­bing if Kerr said he wanted more from War­riors All-Star Klay Thomp­son. He’s been quiet lately, scor­ing nine points on nine shots in Game 4 and 14 points on 16 at­tempts in Game3.

If Thomp­son and Curry string some­thing to­gether in the same game, Cleve­land would be more than hard­pressed to match them on of­fense. Not that Curry is stress­ing out.

“[Thomp­son] cre­ates shots for oth­ers just by his pres­ence on the floor. And that’s what makes our team great, is you have threats ev­ery­where and you have to choose your poi­son,” Curry said.

Af­ter mal­func­tion­ing badly at home in Game 4, Cleve­land got the max­i­mum amount of rest in this round, three days to lick wounds and pine for dam­aged All-Stars Kevin Love and Kyrie Irv­ing.

James has said he’s fine de­spite need­ing stitches from his head-on col­li­sion with a TV cam­era. He’ll surely im­prove upon his 20point, seven-for-22 ef­fort in Game4, won’t he?

The ex­tra day of rest was like a “life­line,” he said, try­ing to size up his need to take a lot of shots to score a lot of points.

“Well, I’m in a spot where I have to be very pro­duc­tive, and that’s just the spot I’ve al­ways been in,” he said. “For me, it’s a lose-lose when it comes to, OK, well, in the first three games I score 40, but I shoot a lot of shots. Last game I scored20, Idon’t shoot as many shots, andwe lose. So it’s like, what do you want?

“All I care about is how I can pro­duce for our team.”

The big­ger ques­tions or­bit James’ team­mates.

Will Matthew Dellave­dova score 20 points (Game 3 out­put) or miss nine of 12 shots (Game 4 stats)? Can Ti­mofey Moz­gov and Tris­tan Thomp­son plun­der the War­riors’ teeny lineup just a lit­tle bit more? Will J.R. Smith do any­thing this se­ries be­sides miss a ton of shots from his typ­i­cally, uh, unique se­lec­tion?

Smith seems the most down on him­self and, at the same time, apt to punch out of his slump at any­time. He’s the one who scored 28 points against At­lanta in the Eastern Con­fer­ence fi­nals, mak­ing eight of12 three-point at­tempts.

“The best part about it, I can’t play no worse,” Smith said Satur­day, cog­nizant he was shoot­ing poorly in the se­ries (29.8% to be ex­act).

The War­riors own the mo­men­tum and are 47-4 at Or­a­cle Arena. Avic­tory Sun­day puts them in very good shape. Andthat’s no lie.

Ron­ald Martinez Getty Images

AN­DRE IGUO­DALA has been an un­ex­pected boost for theWar­riors, as he scored 22 points in Game 4.

Ron­ald Martinez Getty Images

KLAY THOMP­SON of Golden State drives against Cleve­land’s Iman Shumpert. Thomp­son has been quiet lately, scor­ing nine points on nine shots in Game 4, but has cre­ated op­por­tu­ni­ties for his team­mates.

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