NBA: Durant’s 32 points send Warriors past LeBron, Cavaliers 118-108
CLEVELAND (AP) — Kevin Durant scored 32 points, Stephen Curry added 23 and the Golden State Warriors extended their road winning streak to 13 games with a 118-108 Martin Luther King holiday victory Monday night over the Cleveland Cavaliers, their struggling NBA Finals foes.
Durant scored 16 in the third quarter for the defending NBA champions, who haven’t lost outside Oracle Arena since Nov. 22.
LeBron James scored 32 points and Kevin Love 17 for Cleveland, which had its home winning streak stopped at 13. Isaiah Thomas, getting his first taste of the Warriors-Cavaliers rivalry, had 19 points in a season-high 32 minutes as he works his way back from a hip injury.
It was Golden State’s second straight win over the Cavs, who have dropped eight of 10 dating to a loss to the Warriors on Christmas Day. Cleveland was down just 93-91 entering the fourth, but the Cavs missed 17 of 19 shots to open the period, allowing Golden State to throttle away.
The Warriors and Cavs have met in the Finals each of the past three years. There’s no guarantee there will be a fourth matchup, and at this point only one of them looks prepared for June.
Cleveland was home after going 1-4 on a road trip that included blowout losses in Minnesota and Toronto.
But while the Cavs aren’t playing like themselves, Warriors coach Steve Kerr was confident they’d look different in June.
“I am very aware that they have LeBron,” Kerr said before the game. “We’ve played them in the Finals three straight years and I guarantee you there was a moment like this in all three seasons — at least one, sometimes more. So we know. He’s always going to get the ship righted and what happens now has nothing to do with what happens later.”
Despite their recent struggles, the Cavs remain a confident bunch, and they showed some early swagger. After he and his teammates were introduced to “Gloves Are Comin’ Off” by rapper 7kingZ, James came out swinging.
He was in attack mode from the start, scoring 16 points in the first quarter and setting the tone for the Cavs.
Later in the half, James retreated down the lane for a huge block on Durant, blasting the ball off the glass to trigger memories for Cleveland fans of his famous chase down on Andre Iguodala in the closing minutes of Game 7 of the 2016 Finals.
But by the time the fourth quarter rolled around, the Warriors were up to their usual tricks.
And when Iguodala dropped a shot with 1:24 left to put Golden State up by 14, Durant waved both arms like a boxing referee stopping a fight.
Warriors: Their franchise record for consecutive road wins is 14 set in 2015-16. … Recorded 33 assists on 41 made field goals. … Kerr smiled when reminded that James recently said his best basketball is still to come. “I know he’s better now than he was four years ago,” Kerr said. “That’s insane when you think about that because that should have been his prime, four years ago, and he was already an MVP and a champion. He’s better — better shooter, better player. He keeps getting better. So I believe him.” …. The NBA champs have used 15 different starting lineups this season. They used 14 in all of 2016-17. … Along with having the best record, Golden State is tops in scoring, assists, blocks, field-goal percentage, 3-point percentage and free-throw percentage.
Cavaliers: James needs 41 points to become the seventh player to score 30,000 career points. … Coach Tyronn Lue still believes the Cavs are the Eastern Conference’s best team “because we’ve got the best player in the world.” … While Thomas remains on a minutes restriction, Lue said he expected the All-Star guard to struggle as he works himself into game shape after being sidelined seven months. “He’s moving pretty good,” Lue said. “It’s just mental.”