Cavs stun Durant, Warriors in epic Christmas Day rematch

Cavs stun Durant, Warriors in epic Christmas Day rematch


CLEVELAND -- With another clutch shot, Kyrie Irving took the Warriors on a trip down memory lane.

Irving dropped a short, turnaround jumper over Klay Thompson with 3.4 seconds left as the Cleveland Cavaliers rallied just the way they did in June's NBA Finals to defeat Golden State 109-108 on Sunday in a marquee Christmas matchup that more than lived up to the hype.

Down by 14 early in the fourth quarter, the Cavs chipped away and then put the ball in the hands of Irving, whose step-back 3-pointer over Stephen Curry on June 19 helped seal Game 7 and gave Cleveland its first major pro sports championship since 1964.

This time, Irving went deep in the lane before spinning and making his shot over Thompson, one of the league's best defenders.

"The kid is special," LeBron James said of his teammate. "It was never in doubt."

Golden State had one last chance but Kevin Durant, who led all scorers with 36 points in his first game in the league's hottest rivalry, lost his balance coming off a screen and couldn't get off a shot as time expired.

Durant felt he was fouled by Richard Jefferson.

"I was trying to make a move," he said. "I didn't fall on my own."

James scored 31 points with a season-high 13 rebounds, Irving added 25 points and Kevin Love 20 for the Cavs, who were down 3-1 in the Finals before storming back to stun a Warriors team that won 73 games during the regular season, but came up one victory short of winning their second straight title.

Thompson added 24, Draymond Green 16 and Curry 15 - on 4 of 11 shooting - for the Warriors, who had their winning streak stopped at seven and fell to 9-1 against Eastern Conference teams.

The biggest present under the tree for basketball fans this holiday was filled with drama, intensity and more than a few moments that sparked reminders of last season's brilliant Finals.

'"It lived up to what everyone wanted it to," James said.

Irving drained a 3 from the wing that looked a lot like the one he made on June 19, but his bucket over Thompson had a higher degree of difficulty.

"That's a really hard shot," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. "I thought Klay played tremendous defense. You don't do anything different."

The Warriors set up a game-winning chance for Durant, but he stumbled with pressure applied by Jefferson and fell to the floor and watched helplessly as Cleveland's fans roared and Cavs coach Tyronn Lue clapped and screamed.

"We all think we're fouled on every play in every single game," Jefferson said. "That's why I say I know the referees have a very hard job. I switched to his body. He looked like he lost his balance. He was trying to regain his balance and as soon as I saw him start to stumble, I ran off."

The teams will meet again Jan. 16 and then not again unless they make it back to the Finals - a "three-quel" that would be the first in league history.

To remind their guests of what happened in June, the Cavs left a door propped open just down the hallway from Golden State's locker room where a large photo of James' game-changing, career-defining block of Andre Iguodala in Game 7 was on display.

The picture had been doctored with a Cavs championship ring taped over James' left index finger.

If there was any doubt that this game meant more than the other 81 to both squads and fan bases, Green took care of that in the opening minutes.

After being called for his second personal foul, Green stormed off the floor, cursing with every step on his way to the bench. Green, whose suspension from Game 5 of the Finals helped swing the series to Cleveland, was slapped with a technical and several of his teammates came over to calm him down before things got worse.


Jefferson still has some hops at 36.

His dunk over Thompson in the fourth quarter sparked a 14-3 run by the Cavs. Following the play, Jefferson, who missed his first eight shots, was called for a technical for winking at Durant.

"I was a little bit surprised by it, but I think they were trying to rein it in," said Jefferson, who was ejected from a game earlier this week.


Warriors: Golden State fell to 11-15 on Christmas Day, 3-11 on the road. ... Curry's shooting a career-low 40 percent on 3-pointers, but Kerr is confident he'll find his touch. "The great thing about Steph is he doesn't worry about it too much," Kerr said. "He's got the confidence of M.J. (Michael Jordan). Very few players I've ever seen can miss 10 shots in a row and then make the next one like it's nothing. Steph's done it his whole career."

Cavaliers: James (301) became the third player to surpass 300 points on the holiday, joining Kobe Bryant (395) and Oscar Robertson (377). ... Cleveland has won 10 of 11. ... Irving added 10 assists. .... James brought the crowd to its feet by blazing across the lane to swat a layup by Zaza Pachulia in the first half.


Warriors: Host Toronto on Wednesday to begin a stretch of five straight and nine of 10 at Oracle Arena.

Cavaliers: Visit Detroit on Monday, when James could rest after playing 41 minutes.

Casspi defends his spot on Warriors, explains why he's not worried about being cut


Casspi defends his spot on Warriors, explains why he's not worried about being cut

OAKLAND -- Like much of the NBA and everyone with an interest in the Warriors, Omri Casspi has watched the emergence of Quinn Cook, who came out of the G-League and is making a strong bid to make the postseason roster.

Casspi, out since spraining his right ankle last Friday against Sacramento, happens to be at or near the top of the list of the tiny group of players that might be dropped should the Warriors decide to add Cook.

The 6-foot-9 veteran forward has heard the chatter.

“First of all, it’s you guys talking,” Casspi said, referring to media. “I don’t really feel it from the organization. At the end of the day, I’m focused on getting healthy and playing. That’s all I can control.

“I feel like the team needs me and know what I can do for the team. My focus is on getting healthy and playing.”

The Warriors have until April 11 to submit their playoff roster.

Casspi’s roster spot is in danger for three reasons.

One, he has lost confidence in his long-distance shooting, which was influential in the team’s decision to sign him to a one-year minimum contract last July.

Two, his defense has been a glaring weakness, with teams attacking him at every opportunity.

Three, he had fallen out of the rotation when the team was fully healthy and didn’t return until after succession of injuries. Casspi exceeded 10 minutes of playing time in only one of the 12 games before injuries to several teammates became a factor.

Stephen Curry’s ankle woes this season, along with Cook’s impressive play, are making a persuasive argument for adding the third-year point guard.

For now, Casspi is determined to get back on court after missing the last two games.

“With my role on this team, when I’m healthy I want to go out there and play, maybe not 100 percent healthy, but close to it,” he said. “That’s what I’m focused on, on feeling good and running up and down and being able to cut and move and be out there again with the guys.”

As Warriors inch closer to full health, Kerr provides update on Durant, Klay


As Warriors inch closer to full health, Kerr provides update on Durant, Klay

OAKLAND -- Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson all worked up sweat Wednesday, putting the Warriors ever closer to being whole again.

Only Draymond Green did not full participate in the non-contact practice session, but he’s expected back in a matter of days.

So while the Warriors are a little more than a week away from possibly having the full squad available, they’re starting to feel a little less vulnerable.

“They’re all kind of day-to-day,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “Steph is closer to playing than KD and Klay.”

Curry has not played since March 8, when he tweaked his surgically repaired right ankle. He missed the last six games. Durant (rib cartilage injury) and Thompson (right thumb sprain) sustained their injuries on March 11 at Minnesota, though Durant played one more game, March 14, before receiving a diagnosis. Durant missed the last three games, Thompson the last four.

Green sustained a pelvic contusion Monday night at San Antonio, but believes he will be available this weekend, either Friday against Atlanta or Sunday against Utah.

Curry, though, is fully cleared for all activities.

“Steph looks great,” Kerr said. “He’s chomping at the bit. But we’ll see how he responds in the next couple days before we decide whether he plays or not.”

Durant loathes acknowledging pain or injuries, and his return will be dictated by his ability with withstanding the contact inevitable in the course of a game.

“I don’t expect KD to play this week,” Kerr said. “It’s not like a timetable . . . just sort of a feel thing. It’s symptomatic with him.”

Thompson seems, at this point, the furthest away from full activity.

“Klay did some stuff," Kerr said, “but not full participation.”