There were no controversial foul reversals, no gaffes and not nearly as much competitive spirit. This time around, LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers were simply outplayed by Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors, with a huge fourth quarter closing a 122-103 win in Game 2 of the N.B.A. finals Sunday night at Oracle Arena in Oakland.
Curry was electric, pouring in a finals-record nine 3-pointers as part of a 33-point effort. T he two-time winner of the N.B.A.’s Most Valuable Player Award also contributed eight assists and seven rebounds.
But unlike James, who has so often had to go it alone, Curry had help from the entirety of his team’s eight-man rotation, with Kevin Durant contributing 26 points, Klay Thompson having 20 and the team’s surprising choice as a starting center, JaVale McGee, scoring 12.
Cleveland did everything it could to slow down Golden State’s runs for the first three quarters. Coach Tyronn Lue snuffed out a few rallies with smart timeouts, and James tried to keep up with the hot-shooting Warriors. But after the game entered the fourth quarter still somewhat competitive, Curry put it away with five of his 3-pointers coming in that final period.
The impact of Curry’s explosion in the fourth was so extreme that Cleveland pulled its starters with more than four minutes remaining and the score well out of hand.
In an on-court interview with ABC’s Doris Burke following the game, Curry talked about what it was like to break the record for 3-pointers in a final game that Ray Allen had set for the Boston Celtics in Game 2 of the 2010 championship series.
“It means a lot,” Curry said. “As I’ve gone through my career I’ve been blessed to play, Reggie (Miller) and Ray Allen are the two names that always pop up at the top of all the 3-point shooter lists, so any time you’re mentioned with those type of names is pretty special.”
James was not quite as dominant as he had been in Game 1, but he once again stuffed the box score with 29 points, 13 assists and 9 rebounds, playing through an eye injury he sustained in Game 1 courtesy of a poke by Draymond Green. His offensive impact was well beyond the 29 points, as he repeatedly set up Kevin Love (22 points) and George Hill (15) for quality shots. James also had his typical impact on defense, more than once ripping the ball out of Durant’s hands.
The difference for Golden State was that it got back to its ball-movement offense, 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 percent versus 41.6 percent), which essentially sealed the Cavaliers’ fate.
SOURCE: BENJAMIN HOFFMAN and MARC STEIN
The New York Times
The Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors face off in the 2018 NBA Finals.
The games will be carried on ABC. The game schedule is below.
Game 1 from Oakland: Thursday, May 31, 9 p.m. ET, ABC
Game 2 from Oakland: Sunday, June 3, 8 p.m. ET, ABC
Game 3 from Cleveland: Wednesday, June 6, 9 p.m. ET, ABC
Game 4 from Cleveland: Friday, June 8, 9 p.m. ET, ABC
Game 5* from Oakland: Monday, June 11, 9 p.m. ET, ABC
Game 6* from Cleveland: Thursday, June 14, 9 p.m. ET, ABC
Game 7* from Oakland: Sunday, June 17, 8 p.m. ET, ABC
* — if necessary