Cavaliers falter late lose to Warriors 129-105
BY STONE LEXINGTON
CAVALIERS BEAT WRITER
(CLEVELAND, OH) - Any time the Golden State Warriors arrive in Cleveland, it can be easy for Cavs fans to reminisce about the previous four seasons. The Cavs are the four-time defending Eastern Conference champions and have met the Warriors in each of the past four NBA Finals, but with one of the worst records in the league this season, the Cavs seem to be chasing the lottery instead of another title.
The Cavs struggles this season have been due to the loss of the best player in the league in the offseason. Meanwhile, the Warriors added a four-time All-Star to their roster over the summer and seem poised to reach a fifth straight Finals. Meeting for the first time this season on Wednesday night, the Cavs battled the Draymond Green-less Warriors into the fourth quarter, but ultimately fell short 129-105 in Quicken Loans Arena.
“We know that Golden State team, they’re the world champs and they’e still playing at a very, very high level minus Draymond,” Cavs interim head coach Larry Drew said. “Obviously with our situation, we’re certainly a different look…It’s a little bit different feel with so many guys in the past that four years when we battled, the personnel was different than it is today.”
As mentioned, the biggest difference for the Cavs this season is the absence of LeBron James, who is now a member of the Los Angeles Lakers. And with Kevin Love (foot surgery) unable to suit up for the Cavs against the high-scoring Warriors on Wednesday, Cleveland didn’t have enough firepower to take down the defending NBA champions.
The Cavs, though, competed from the opening tip, jumping out to a shocking 12-2 lead with a Rodney Hood three-pointer less than two minutes into the game. Golden State fought back to regain the lead and take a 31-25 advantage when the first quarter ended, but the Cavs made their run in the opening minutes of the second quarter.
Cleveland began the second quarter with an 11-0 run, capped by a four-point play, to take a 36-31 lead with 9:46 to play until halftime. A Steph Curry three-pointer with 59 seconds showing until halftime gave the Warriors a 58-56 lead, but Cleveland closed the half with another run, this time 8-0 to take a 64-58 lead into the break.
The Cavs trailed by a surprisingly slim 92-86 deficit just before the end of the third quarter, but Warriors star Kevin Durant drained a three-pointer from nearly half court just before the buzzer to give Golden State a 95-86 lead heading into the fourth. By the time Warriors point guard Quinn Cook drained a trey roughly a minute into the fourth quarter, Golden State had secured a double-digit lead, 100-89, and cruised the rest of the way.
Curry finished with a game-high 42 points, seven assists and nine rebounds. Durant contributed a near-triple double with 25 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists.
“It’s just different waling into the building,” Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said as he reflected on the Cavs-Warriors rivalry. “There’s still a ton of great memories, some of the best basketball I’ve ever seen in my life played between these two teams over the last four seasons. Obviously, they have a new team, so you move on.
“Part of me is a little nostalgic for that. I’ll miss that.”
Kerr, however, feels that the term “rivalry” can’t be applied to the Cavs and Warriors any longer.
“For sure,” Kerr said when asked if the rivalry has dissipated. “That stuff generally dissipates over time, but I think in this case, it’s an entirely new cast of characters, especially with Kevin Love out and J.R.’s status…It seems like everybody’s gone including Ty.
“It’s not a rivalry, it’s another game and they’re on their new course trying to build something, and we’re trying to continue our run as long as we can.”
While the Warriors are the heavy favorite to reach a fifth straight Finals, the Cavs are in the running to secure the No. 1 pick in next year’s NBA Draft. The Cavs’ top draft pick last season, Colin Sexton, led Cleveland with 21 points. Cleveland shooting guard Jordan Clarkson scored 17 points, while Tristan Thompson totaled a double-double with 14 points and 19 rebounds.
Thompson was the only active player for the Cavs on Wednesday who played in each of the past four Finals. Kerr has fond memories of the past four years and likened it too when he was a player.
“When I was a player, being involved in the Finals, I felt that same intensity walking out on the floor,” Kerr said reminiscing on the past four years facing Cleveland. “I think what made this one unique was just that it was the same two teams four years in a row, which has never happened in the history of the game, and it was LeBron.
“You’re talking about one of the all time greats. Maybe this is what other teams felt like when I was with the Bulls and they were playing us. You walk onto the floor and you look down and you see Michael Jordan, and you know you have to find a way to win the game. We had some amazing battles and I will always have just great memories, great respect for Ty (Lue) and his staff and those teams.
“They were unbelievably competitive and compelling games, and I’m glad to have been a part of it.”
Drew, who made the Finals as a player with the Lakers, shared his sentiments on the last four years.
“I get Christmas off this year, so I’m excited about that,” Drew jokingly said when asked what he’ll savor most from playing Golden State in the Finals during the last four years. “Four straight years of NBA Finals, to me that kind of just speaks for itself. Battling against a team that certainly, they’ll probably go down as one of the greatest teams in history.
“Being a part of going against that team, you really have to savor those opportunities because just like winning a championship, you have to cherish it because not only is it hard to win one, but it’s even harder to get to that point to be in a position to win one. So I look back at the four years that we battled Golden State just remembering how intense those moments were. The unfortunate part about it was we only came up with one, but getting there four straight years, I look back personally and just say wow, I was in the Finals four straight years.”
The Cavs (5-19) will attempt to get their sixth win of the season on Wednesday against the Sacramento Kings. .
POSTED 12/01/2018 22:41