OAKLAND, Calif. — The Cleveland Cavaliers didn’t quit, they fought. But it didn’t matter because the Golden State Warriors have one of the greatest demoralizers in the game and he crushed them over and over again.
Stephen Curry took 17 three-pointers Sunday, and after a slow start they began to fall, each dagger cutting at Cleveland’s heart.
The Warriors beat the Cavaliers 122-103 in Game 2 of the NBA Finals, burying them with their best shooting performance they’ve had during their four-year run of dominance. The Warriors had made more than 60 percent of their shots before removing their starters late in the fourth quarter — they finished at 57.3 percent — and three players scored 20 or more points.
Curry was especially brilliant. After making only one of five threes in the first quarter, Curry made eight of 12 in the final three. He led all scorers with 33 points and added eight assists and seven rebounds. Kevin Durant added 26 points.
While there was some concern about Klay Thompson’s availability due to a high ankle sprain, Thompson played and didn’t appear bothered by it. He limped Saturday but was sure-footed Sunday, scoring 20 points on eight-of-13 shooting. His only misses came from three-point range.
The series stands at 2-0 with the next game in Cleveland on Wednesday.
LeBron James followed a 51-point performance with 29 points, 13 assists and nine rebounds.
James, whose left eye remained blood red throughout the game after it was poked in Thursday’s opener, made half of his 20 field-goal attempts. Kevin Love also contributed a double-double, scoring 22 and grabbing 10 rebounds.
The crowd at Oracle Arena wouldn’t let JR Smith forget his Game 1 blunder that helped Golden State escape with a win. Warriors fans gave him a standing ovation when he was introduced before the game. When he went to the line to shoot free throws, they chanted “M-V-P.”
Smith made two of his first three shots, but missed his next six, including an open three in the third quarter that would have trimmed the Warriors’ lead to single digits. He finished with five points on two-of-nine shooting.
Where the Warriors didn’t have a nine-point lead until overtime of Game 1, the led by nine in the first quarter of Game 2. Golden State made its first seven field goals and 65.2 percent in the first quarter. Still the Cavaliers hung around, trailing by only four heading into the second quarter.
Cleveland shot much worse in the second, making only six of 23 attempts while the Warriors finished the half making 59.5 percent for a 13-point lead. But Golden State, normally deadly in the third quarter, allowed Cleveland back into the game.
The Warriors were outscored 34-31 in the third quarter, a period during which they normally outscore opponents by nearly 20 points.
It was in the fourth quarter that they did their damage.
Cleveland cut the Warriors’ lead to single digits multiple times, led by an exhausted James, but the Warriors’ assault became too much for the Cavaliers to overcome. James played every second until being removed with 4:09 left in the fourth quarter.