Nothing cavalier about warriors' win

Golden State's Stephen Curry shooting over Cleveland's Kyrie Irving as LeBron James looks on. The 132-98 thrashing in the re-match of last year's NBA Finals saw the Warriors improve to 38-4 for the season while the Cavaliers went to 28-11. The 34-poi
Golden State's Stephen Curry shooting over Cleveland's Kyrie Irving as LeBron James looks on. The 132-98 thrashing in the re-match of last year's NBA Finals saw the Warriors improve to 38-4 for the season while the Cavaliers went to 28-11. The 34-point loss was the worst home defeat of James' career.PHOTO: REUTERS

Golden State, helped by Curry's 35 pts, make statement with emphatic win over title rivals

CLEVELAND • Stephen Curry contributed 35 points as the Golden State Warriors dished out the heaviest home defeat of LeBron James' career with a 132-98 pummelling of the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday.

The eagerly anticipated rematch between the reigning National Basketball Association (NBA) champions Warriors and last year's beaten finalists turned into a night to forget for James and the Cavaliers as Golden State ran riot.

Curry was tormentor-in-chief as he returned to the stadium where he helped the Warriors clinch last year's NBA title.

The 27-year-old point guard had reportedly angered certain Cavaliers players in the build-up by joking that he hoped the locker room "still smells a little bit like champagne". But any plans the Cavaliers had to make Curry regret his choice of words were torn up within a few minutes of the tip-off.

The Warriors raced to an early lead and never looked back. By the fourth quarter, the Cavaliers trailed by a mammoth 43 points - the largest deficit James has faced at any point in his 1,127-game career.

The 34-point loss was the heaviest margin of defeat that he has suffered in a home defeat, according to ESPN Statistics.

The dominance of the Warriors proved too much for James at one point, with the superstar losing his composure in an off-the-ball tussle with Curry, who ended up being grappled to the floor.

James finished with 16 points but his personal tally was an irrelevance on a night which finished with dejected Cavaliers fans leaving Cleveland's Quicken Loans Arena well before the end of the game.

Curry received able backing from Andre Iguodala with 20 points while Draymond Green chipped in with 16 points, including 10 assists.

A satisfied Curry said the win would remind the Warriors of their potential.

"It's a good message that we sent to ourselves - this is what we're capable of," he told ESPN.

"We bring the energy, we get the game to our pace, take care of the basketball, make shots and play well.

"We've got a high IQ on this team - and we move the ball and look for the best shot on every possession. We're tough to beat."

The win saw the Warriors improve to 38-4 for the season while the Cavaliers went to 28-11.

J.R. Smith had 14 points for the Cavs, who fell to 0-3 this season against the West's elite - the Warriors and San Antonio Spurs.

Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love shot a combined four-for-16 and totalled 11 points. Love's only basket was a three-pointer late in the first half.

"Tonight was an example of how far we have to go to be a championship team," said James.

If the Cavs do miss out on the NBA title, he can at least hope to team up with Curry in the United States' bid to win basketball gold at the Olympics.

James and Curry were on Monday named in a 30-man provisional squad from which the final US squad will be chosen.

Curry was one of five players from the Warriors included in the squad, joining Klay Thompson, Green, Harrison Barnes and Iguodala.

James is a three-time Olympic medallist aiming to head to Rio de Janeiro in August for a fourth Games. The 30-man squad will eventually be whittled down to 12 players later this year.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 20, 2016, with the headline 'NOTHING CAVALIER ABOUT WARRIORS' WIN'. Print Edition | Subscribe