ORACLE ARENA — The Warriors, atop the NBA, are running away with wins. Literally.
Against every team, the Warriors game plan is to play up tempo and to beat their opponent in transition. Friday, they executed that plan with perfection, scoring 36 fast break points to the Cavaliers’ three in a 112-94 victory.
The Cavaliers, playing their seventh straight game without LeBron James, gave the league-leading Warriors a run for their money through most of the game, but Golden State finished off a 6-0 home stand with a third quarter surge, followed by a 28-18 scoring fourth quarter.
Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said the home stand has allowed the team to focus and create an even tougher atmosphere:
“It went exactly as I’d hoped, 6-0. But more importantly we really kind of found our game again…We’ve become really tough to beat at home and that’s important. We have to keep it that way.”
Cleveland’s newly acquired J.R. Smith and Timofey Mozgov gave the Cavaliers scoring and size that caused problems for the Warriors in a game that saw 12 ties and nine lead changes. But with ball movement (35 assists on 43 made shots) and defense, the Warriors were able to control the game down the stretch.
The Warriors finally found the spark of energy they needed to turn the game in their favor midway through the third quarter when Andrew Bogut blocked Mozgov’s shot. The Cavaliers scrambled for the ball as they committed a shot clock violation.
With the crowd roaring, Curry hit a three to keep the momentum going before Draymond Green stole the ball and sent it flying to Harrison Barnes for an easy bucket on the following play. The 11-0 run was capped off by a Green to Barnes alley-oop for a 75-66 lead.
Bogut, in his second game back from a knee injury, told SFBay he was feeling great and it was just a matter of time before he and the team found a spot to make a run:
“We know if we can grind out games we’re going to have a spurt where we can turn it on offensively. If we can get stops on top of that and get a 10-15 point lead its pretty hard to come back against us, especially at home.”
Cleveland was able to cut the Warriors lead down to five with just under six minutes to play, but the Warriors had too many weapons for the Cavaliers to keep up with.
Green finished the game with just shy of a triple-double with 10 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists. He combined with Holiday and Marreese Speights to score 18 of the Warriors’ final 28 points.
Bogut spoke about the Warriors’ depth, saying a large reason for their success is players being professional about the rotation and the minutes distribution:
“We have a lot of talented guys 1-through-12 and a lot of guys that aren’t getting as many minutes as they would probably elsewhere but I think its for the greater good of the team. Guys aren’t bitching or complaining about it and its impressive to see that. Hopefully we can continue to remain professional and keep pushing.”
All five Warriors starters finished the game in double figures as Thompson finished with 24 points, Curry finished with a 23-point, 10-assist double-double and Barnes added 11 points.
The Warriors, now 29-5, will visit the Utah Jazz on Tuesday before returning to host the Miami heat Wednesday.
Friday’s nationally televised game saw the return of Mark Jackson to Oracle Arena. Jackson, now a commentator for ESPN, coached the Warriors for three seasons before being fired following Golden State’s first round playoff loss to the Clippers last season.
Jackson was shown on the jumbo screen during a timeout with the words “Welcome Back.” As the crowd rose to their feet and joined Stephen Curry in a standing ovation, Jackson waved to the crowd.
When ESPN’s broadcast resumed following the break, Jackson said he was humbled by the crowd’s reaction and went on to speak about his former success with the team (two consecutive winning seasons and playoff appearances) and Kerr’s current success with the team, saying:
“You can not disrespect the caterpillar and rave about the butterfly.”
Golden State improved to 19-0 on the season when holding its opponent to under 100 points. … Klay Thompson hit his 645th career three pointer, surpassing Stephen Curry for the most threes ever by a player in his first four seasons in the league. Thompson, who left the game in the third quarter with a forehead laceration but returned after receiving seven stitches, finished with a team-high 24 points. … Draymond Green posted his ninth double-double of the season marking his 11th game this season with double-digit rebounds, which is more than double his total last season (5). … Justin Holiday led the reserves with 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting from the field, his fifth game in the last nine that he’s scored in double-figures.