NBA: Short-handed Warriors ride three-point barrage to win over Cavaliers

Warriors guard Jordan Poole driving to the basket against the Cleveland Cavaliers during their NBA clash on Friday. PHOTO: REUTERS

LOS ANGELES – Jordan Poole and Golden State put on a shooting clinic in Cleveland on Friday, as the Warriors drained 23 three-pointers in a 120-114 victory as their coach Steve Kerr lobbied for fewer games after resting his star players.

Warriors star Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Andrew Wiggins and Draymond Green all sat out of the contest, a day after the National Basketball Association champions’ heartbreaking overtime loss to the Celtics in Boston.

Kerr told ESPN: “I feel terrible for fans who buy tickets expecting to see someone play and they don’t get to see that person play. It’s a brutal part of the business. It’s why I’m going to continue to advocate for 72-game seasons.”

“You take 10 games off the schedule, it always feels like with 10 games left in the year everybody’s sort of had it anyways.

“That creates enough rest where we don’t have to have some of these crazy situations. I think you’d see way fewer games missed from players....

“It’s proven that if guys are banged up, back-to-backs, players are much more likely to get injured and miss more games and that’s why you’re seeing it league wide.

“Everybody is being cautious when a guy is banged up. You’re just playing the long game.”

But, with 32 points from Poole and 22 from Ty Jerome, the Warriors came away unlikely winners – their first road victory this season over a team with a winning record.

Golden State set the tone when they connected on seven of eight three-pointers in the first quarter, and their 14 first-half three-pointers matched the most ever by a Cleveland opponent for one half.

There was no let-up after the break, the Warriors quickly pushing a five-point half-time lead to as many as 20 in a third quarter that featured another six three-pointers from them.

Cleveland sliced the deficit to four with two minutes remaining, but Jerome promptly drained another three-pointer and the Warriors were off again.

Poole, the only regular Warriors starter in action on Friday, finished with five three-pointers. Anthony Lamb had four and Jerome had three – as did Donte DiVincenzo and JaMychal Green, who was back in action after missing 14 games.

Jonathan Kuminga also returned for Golden State after missing eight games with a sprained foot.

“It’s just a night where a bunch of guys came in and played with confidence, played with force. When you get a win like this and everybody feels good about themselves in their own game, it gives you a little boost,” Kerr said.

Darius Garland scored 31 to lead Cleveland, who were again without three-time All-Star Donovan Mitchell because of a groin injury.

Cleveland coach J.B. Bickerstaff said the problem was not any missing Cavs player.

“We didn’t respect the game. It’s that simple,” Bickerstaff said.

“They’ve got champions over there and we thought some of those guys were out, so we were going to take it lightly and we got what we deserved.”

Meanwhile, LeBron James added 23 and the Los Angeles Lakers used some late-game heroics from Dennis Schroder to earn a 122-121 victory over the visiting Memphis Grizzlies.

The result ended the Grizzlies’ franchise-record-tying, 11-game winning streak.

Schroder, who scored 19 points, had a steal, a lay-up and three free throws in the final 13 seconds to help the Lakers win after trailing by as many as 13 points late in the third quarter.

Los Angeles had lost four of their previous five games, with the three most recent defeats coming by a combined 10 points.

Ja Morant scored 22 points while Brandon Clarke and Tyus Jones added 20 points each for the Grizzlies. Clarke missed a free throw with 1.2 seconds remaining that would have tied the game.

Elsewhere, Kyrie Irving dominated the fourth quarter and finished with a season-high 48 points and 11 rebounds, lifting the Brooklyn Nets over the Utah Jazz 117-106 on Friday night in Salt Lake City.

He said: “I put my body on the line and lead by example. When I can get it going on the defensive end and do the little things, it really makes a difference for me and I’m dialed in.”

AFP, REUTERS

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