November 27, 2014

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Depleted Warriors whip Cavs

CLEVELAND — Any thoughts the Cavaliers had finally arrived were quickly laid to rest Tuesday night at Quicken Loans Arena.

With a chance for their first four-game winning streak since the LeBron James era, Cleveland got dominated 108-95 by a Golden State team that was minus three starters and one of its top reserves.

A career-high 32 points from shooting guard Klay Thompson, 26 points and a career-high-tying 12 assists from veteran point guard Jarrett Jack and 20 points, 13 boards and eight assists from All-Star power forward David Lee were way more than enough to halt a modest three-game winning streak by the Cavs (13-33).

That the Warriors (28-17) were minus 22-point scorer Stephen Curry, 7-foot center Andrew Bogut, rookie small forward Harrison Barnes and veteran reserve Carl Landry due to injury — all played Monday in Toronto — simply put an exclamation point on the reality check Cleveland received.

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“We didn’t have the energy and sense of urgency, for whatever reason,” Cavs coach Byron Scott said. “I thought they came out aggressive and we were on our heels all night long.

“You’ve got to treat it like a wounded animal,” he added of Golden State’s injury situation. “It has no choice. It’s going to come out fighting.”

The surprising Warriors, who began the night with the fifth-best record in the Western Conference, certainly did that.

The league’s top 3-point shooting team at .394 — that’s .012 higher than the overall field goal percentage of Cleveland rookie Dion Waiters — Golden State made its first nine attempts from beyond the arc in jumping to a 72-57 lead midway through the third period.

At that point, the smooth-shooting Thompson, the 11th pick in the 2011 draft, already had 28 points and was 6-for-6 on 3-pointers. He had 30 at the end of the third before adding just two in the fourth, but his 32 points were 32 more than the man who allegedly defended him for most of the night, as Cavs small forward Alonzo Gee went scoreless in 28 minutes.

“If we think in our minds that we’re going to outscore them and win and it’s going to be that type of game, we’re in trouble,” Scott said. “We’ve got to defend.”

Golden State shot .536 from the field (45-for-84) and made 11-of-16 from 3-point range. Cleveland had to heat up to shoot .429 from the floor (36-for-84) and never did get hot from long range, going 4-for-18 on 3-pointers as the Warriors spent much of the night in a 2-3 matchup zone.

That strategy prevented Cavs guard Kyrie Irving, who played with an illness, from ever becoming much of a factor. The reigning Eastern Conference Player of the Week, who had averaged 35.7 points and shot .612 from the field in his previous three games, had just 14 points on 5-for-17 shooting. He had six points and was 3-for-11 through three quarters.

“I just wasn’t myself out there in terms of my mental focus, but that’s no excuse,” said the 20-year-old, who was often defended by the 6-7 Thompson when the Warriors played man.

With the Cavs down 90-75 with 8½ minutes left, Scott put Irving in earlier than normal in the hope of making one last push. The second-year pro had eight points down the stretch and Cleveland got as close as eight with 4:09 to go, but a 3-pointer and a floater by Jack put the Warriors back up 13.

“I was trying to find something deep within,” Irving said. “I just couldn’t find it, couldn’t hit a shot. That’s basically the game for me personally. I’m just feeling like crap.”

Said Scott: “He didn’t look like himself. I don’t think, obviously, he was 100 percent tonight.”

That could be said about all the Cavs, who had a handful of players post numbers that looked decent on paper but really weren’t overly impressive.

Tristan Thompson, who played through a bruised middle finger on his left hand, finished with 18 points and 11 rebounds, while Waiters had 18 points and seven assists.

Tyler Zeller added 16 points but only three rebounds in 36 minutes, Marreese Speights had 12 points and C.J. Miles had 10 points but made just 2-of-8 from long range.

In addition to the combined 78 points, 21 rebounds and 22 assists they got from Klay Thompson, Jack and Lee, the Warriors also got a career-high nine points off the bench from Old Dominion rookie Kent Bazemore.

“We could have just laid down when we didn’t have four of our premier players, but we had bench guys come in and do big things,” Klay Thompson said. “It shows the depth of this team.”

Contact Rick Noland at (330) 721-4061 or rnoland@medina-gazette.com.

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