Golden state's reserves slay Cavs

Warriors star Stephen Curry (left) tries to shoot while being guarded by the Cavs' LeBron James. He scored just 11 points, but his team-mates stepped up to take the win.
Warriors star Stephen Curry (left) tries to shoot while being guarded by the Cavs' LeBron James. He scored just 11 points, but his team-mates stepped up to take the win.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

They spark 21-4 run to take Game 1 despite poor outings from stars Curry and Thompson

OAKLAND (California) • The bad news for the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday was an 89-104 loss to the Golden State Warriors.

The worse news was that Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson had little to do with it.

Game 1 of the National Basketball Association (NBA) Finals was a tribute to the Warriors' depth and sharing spirit.

Led by Shaun Livingston's 20 points, their bench annihilated the Cavaliers, outscoring their rivals' bench by 45-10 and igniting a 21-4 run from late in the third quarter to the 8min 34sec mark of the fourth, turning a one-point deficit into an 88-72 lead.

The fewest points that Curry and Thompson, the renowned Splash Brothers, had scored in a game this season was 29.

They combined for just 20 on 8-for-27 shooting in Game 1, but it meant little, with both long-range marksmen sitting for almost six minutes of the fourth quarter.

Livingston, Curry's back-up at point guard, made eight of 10 shots to lead seven Warriors into double figures.

"He got to his spots, to the free-throw line, 12 feet and in on the baseline, and he hurt us with that," the Cavs' rookie coach Tyronn Lue said of Livingston, although he was more mournful over the 28 shots Cleveland missed in the lane.

Draymond Green, the best of Golden State's Game 1 starters, had 16 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists.

Reserve forward Andre Iguodala - the Most Valuable Player in last season's Finals - also had a brilliant game, harassing LeBron James on defence to finish with 12 points, seven rebounds and six assists.

Handling the ball at times like a point guard, Iguodala played just under 36 minutes and had no turnovers.

In the game's most intense moment, he got into the chest of Matthew Dellavedova, the Cavs' back-up point guard, after the Australian slapped him in the groin from behind, reaching for the ball but getting nowhere near it, late in the third quarter. On the Warriors' next possession, Iguodala drilled a three-pointer from the left wing to close the quarter.

The Cavs cut the lead to 11 points with a 9-0 run with 3:23 left, but James lost the ball to Green, and Curry nailed a three-pointer to abort any budding drama.

Curry flung his mouthpiece, later explaining it as a demonstration of his night-long frustration.

"Really proud of the way everybody contributed," he said, referring to how he and Thompson had been bailed out by the bench.

"The one thing we've talked about all year is, if we defend and take care of the ball, then we're always going to have somebody score enough points for us," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said.

"We played great defence and we had nine turnovers in total, and that allowed us to control the game."

Kyrie Irving led the Cavs with 26 points. James had 23 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists, and Kevin Love added 17 points and 13 boards.

But the Cavs got little else, especially from J.R. Smith, who scored three points in 36 minutes.

"When you get outscored, 45-10, on the bench and give up 25 points on turnovers, you're not going to win on the road," James said after beginning his seventh career Finals, with a 2-4 win-loss record to show for it.

The Cavaliers superstar was visibly upset with the flow of Game 1, as the Cavs' offence deteriorated into excessive isolation play and wound up with 38 per cent shooting.

NEW YORK TIMES, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 04, 2016, with the headline 'Golden state's reserves slay Cavs'. Print Edition | Subscribe