NBA Finals 2018

Record-breaking Curry the key

Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors driving to the basket against Larry Nance (No. 22) and Kyle Korver of the Cleveland Cavaliers in the second half of Game Two of the NBA Finals on Sunday. Curry finished with 33 points, converting nine of 17
Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors driving to the basket against Larry Nance (No. 22) and Kyle Korver of the Cleveland Cavaliers in the second half of Game Two of the NBA Finals on Sunday. Curry finished with 33 points, converting nine of 17 long-range attempts as the Warriors won 122-103.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

His record tally of nine 3-pointers pivotal as Warriors swamp Cavs to take 2-0 Finals lead

OAKLAND (California) • At first, it looked like nothing more than a desperate heave.

Stephen Curry had lost the ball late in the shot clock early in the fourth quarter on Sunday, but got it back about 30 feet away from the basket with Kevin Love closing in on him.

Realising the shot clock was about to expire, he squared his shoulders to the rim and let the ball fly out of his hands in a high arc.

It dropped through the net and helped the Golden State Warriors seal a 122-103 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game Two of the National Basketball Association (NBA) Finals for a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.

It also moved Curry, who finished with a Finals single-game record of nine three-pointers, to within striking distance of the one thing missing on his resume - an NBA Finals Most Valuable Player award.

"It took to the second question of my first media availability, so I'm pretty sure that narrative's going to take life, as it has since 2015," Curry said with a smile during his series-opening media session. "If we win this championship and I don't win Finals MVP, I'm going to be smiling just as wide and just as big."

He may have meant what he said, but his play through the first two games of this series has said otherwise.

TEAM BEFORE SELF

If we win this championship and I don't win Finals MVP, I'm going to be smiling just as wide and just as big.

STEPHEN CURRY, on whether he thinks he will win his first NBA Finals MVP award.

After scoring 29 points to go with six rebounds and nine assists in Game One, Curry followed up with 33 points - 16 in the fourth quarter - seven rebounds and eight assists.

He has been Golden State's best player but also received plenty of support from his team-mates on Sunday, with Kevin Durant contributing 26 points, Klay Thompson 20 and the team's surprising choice as a starting centre, JaVale McGee, 12.

Curry, who already owns the NBA three-pointer record for a season (402) among others, broke the old mark of eight three-pointers in a Finals game set by Boston's Ray Allen in 2010 with 3min 30sec left.

"It means a lot," Curry said.

Paying tribute to Allen as well as Reggie Miller, he added: "As I've gone through my career I've been blessed to play, Reggie and Ray Allen are the two names that always pop up at the top of all the three-point shooter lists, so any time you're mentioned with those type of names is pretty special."

Cavaliers star LeBron James was not quite as dominant as he had been in his 51-point performance in Game One, but he had 29 points, 13 assists and nine rebounds.

His offensive impact was well beyond the statistics, as he repeatedly set up Love (22 points) and George Hill (15) for quality shots. James also had his typical effect on defence, more than once ripping the ball out of Durant's hands.

The difference for Golden State was that they got back to their ball-movement offence, with the team combining for 28 assists and coupling that with a far better effort on the glass, matching the Cavaliers with 41 rebounds. But Golden State had a dramatic advantage in field-goal percentage (57.3 per cent versus 41.6 per cent), and Curry.

Coming after a James dunk, Curry's 30-foot stunner gave the Warriors a 103-89 edge. Cleveland never got within 12 again.

Thompson could only marvel as he watched the play that put an exclamation point on a wire-to-wire victory at the Oracle Arena.

"He just kept going backwards," said the guard. "But he just threw it up and I don't think it had any chance of going in, but that was kind of like a dagger shot, and it gave us all the momentum back."

WASHINGTON POST, NYTIMES, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 05, 2018, with the headline 'Record-breaking Curry the key'. Print Edition | Subscribe