Durant, Curry spark Warriors win in NBA Finals
Oakland (United States) (AFP)
Kevin Durant scored 33 points and grabbed 13 rebounds while Stephen Curry added 32 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists Sunday as the Golden State Warriors ripped Cleveland 132-113 in a historic second game of the NBA Finals.
The Warriors, who welcomed back coach Steve Kerr after he missed 11 games with health issues following back surgery, stretched their playoff win streak to an NBA-record 14 games by dominating the defending champion Cavaliers in the second half.
Golden State moved within two games of becoming the first NBA champion to complete an unbeaten playoff run, seizing a 2-0 edge in the best-of-seven championship series, which shifts to Cleveland for games three and four on Wednesday and Friday.
LeBron James led the Cavaliers with 29 points, 11 rebounds and 14 assists to match a record with his eighth career NBA Finals triple double. Only former Los Angeles Lakers legend Magic Johnson had eight prior finals triple doubles. No one else has more than two.
Together with Curry's triple double, it was only the second time in playoff history that two rivals had managed triple doubles in the same game, the other coming in 1970 by New York's Walt Frazier and Milwaukee's Lew Alcindor, who would later change his name to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
Curry credited his first finals triple double to the tension of the title quest and the effort needed to answer the Cavs' challenge.
"We're in the finals. That's all the motivation we need," Curry said. "We leave everything on the floor."
Kevin Love scored 27 points for the Cavaliers while Kyrie Irving added 19 in a losing cause.
Klay Thompson added 22 points for the Warriors, with Curry saying the Warriors still have work to do to play their best.
"I could play much better," he said. "Some good things going on but we've got to get better.
"We're young. We're hungry. We're playing great basketball. We've got a great opportunity in front of us and we've got to seize it."
Spectacular passes, slam dunks, deadly shots and high-leaping playmakers dominated the night as the game was played at a fast-paced, high-intensity tempo that had spectators roaring with delight.
Durant became only the third player in NBA history to score 25 points in his first seven NBA Finals appearances, joining Michael Jordan and Shaquille O'Neal.
Curry seized command in the third quarter with 12 points, seven rebounds and five assists as the Warriors stretched a 67-64 half-time lead to 102-88 entering the fourth quarter, a margin no finals team had squandered so late to lose since 1992.
From there, Golden State steadily pulled away, the Cavaliers having no answer for the Warriors speed and outside shooting.
"The second half we settled in and just tried to play better and played tougher on defense," Durant said. "We're just trying to play good basketball every time down the floor."
The game turned when Curry sank a 3-pointer and two free throws, then dribbled impressively around James for a layup to cap a 10-3 run that put the Warriors ahead 83-73 early in the third.
Cleveland battled back but a steal set up a Durant fast break layup and 3-point play and Shaun Livingston followed with an uncontested dunk to ignite a 16-6 run to close the quarter.
The Cavaliers went scoreless for more than 3:30 late in the third despite Draymond Green going to the Warrior bench with a fifth personal foul.
Durant and Curry each scored 15 first-half points, but Golden State had 13 turnovers at the break after just four in the series opener.
James scored 18 points in the first half with 10 assists, his most assists in any playoff half in his career.
Tristan Thompson played fewer minutes for the Cavs, with Iman Shumpert seeing more time to help ease the defensive load on James guarding Durant.
Curry went 10-for-10 at the free throw line and scored 15 points as Golden State took a 40-34 lead in the highest-scoring NBA Finals first quarter in 50 years and the second-highest ever.
© 2017 AFP