Warriors lost Christmas Day battle as much as the Cavs came and took it

Warriors lost Christmas Day battle as much as the Cavs came and took it

They’ll surely remember the officiating, often suspect and sometimes awful.

They’ll realize that Kevin Durant did his part, submitting a monster game to offset the varied and wondrously complete game thrown at them by LeBron James.

What the Warriors should take with them, above all else, is the discomfort and introspection that comes with blowing a 14-point lead in the fourth quarter.

This one is on the Warriors, who have no choice but to eat this 109-108 defeat to the Cavaliers on Christmas Day in Cleveland. Swallow it whole, and let it sit like a rock in their collective gut for the next three weeks.

For not until Jan. 16 in Oakland will the Warriors have another chance to prove that losing to the Cavaliers four consecutive times, under the brightest of spotlights, is not indicative of a trend or a pattern or, even worse, a psychological disadvantage.

Until then, it’s regrets across the board.

“We had a chance to put them away, for sure,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr told reporters at Quicken Loans Arena.

“We had that game in our hands,” said Durant, who posted 36 points and 15 rebounds.

“The way we lost that game . . . you’d better be mad,” said Klay Thompson, who scored 24 points. “I don’t care if it’s Christmas Day or any game you lose, any time you blow a 13-point lead that has to piss you off.”

The Warriors were undone by the usual culprit: turnovers. They committed 20, leading to 21 Cleveland points.

Moreover, the Warriors over the final 8:29 blew a 13-point lead (95-82) by committing six giveaways, which the Cavs turned into 10 points, greatly aiding a 27-13 closing run that overtook the visitors.

“Timely turnovers got us tonight,” Durant said.

“Too many turnovers,” Kerr said. “We had control of the game and we did not execute at all in the fourth quarter.”

“Control” might be a bit strong, but the Warriors had put themselves in great position. Durant was dealing, as was Klay Thompson, who finished with 24 points. They were defending at championship level.

They trailed for a total of 27 seconds (in the first quarter) until the fourth-quarter collapse punctuated by Kyrie Irving’s 13-foot fadeaway over Thompson’s tight coverage with 3.4 seconds remaining.

The Warriors went down with Durant, whose attempt to put up a buzzer-beater was foiled when Cavs veteran Richard Jefferson stuck out his right knee and plopped his right foot atop Durant’s foot, sending Durant sprawling.

“I was trying to make a move and fell,” Durant said. “And I didn’t fall on my own.”

No whistle, only a buzzer signaling dejection.

The Warriors (27-5) can point to the missed calls, including James dunking and hanging on the rim for several seconds without being called for a technical foul. They can point to Jefferson’s illegal rump bump on Curry and say there should have been a foul.

But when a team with championship aspirations gives up a double-digit fourth-quarter lead, it also must examine its empty possessions, including a stunning shot-clock violation with 13.5 seconds remaining – knowing it would be its last full possession of the game.

“We did some good things, offensively, and then there were times when we did not handle the pressure well,” Kerr said, crediting the Cleveland defense. “The 20 turnovers . . . a lot of them early were not even due to the pressure. It was more just decision-making. Like, around the back passes in the paint and silly plays. We have to make simple plays and we talk about that all of the time. But, we have to make it more of a habit.”

Cleveland point guard Kyrie Irving once again outplayed Stephen Curry, and if this becomes a habit, the Warriors will continue to have a problem with the Cavs – no matter what James does.

The Warriors lost this one as much as the Cavs (23-6) came and took it, as happened in Games 5, 6 and 7 of The Finals. In two of those games, the Warriors lost fourth-quarter leads. Neither, however, was as sizable that which evaporated Sunday.

Cleveland’s comeback was the largest against the Warriors this season – and larger than any they endured en route to winning an NBA-record 73 games last season.

“It will be quite valuable for us to look at that tape because we know we let it slip away,” Kerr said.

Hopeful night at Oracle turns solemn after Curry sprains left MCL

Hopeful night at Oracle turns solemn after Curry sprains left MCL

OAKLAND -- The words came dribbling out slowly, ruefully and with more than a trace of despair.

JaVale McGee, the 7-foot accidental villain, could barely speak about his role Friday night in the moment that left the Warriors pleading for mercy while their fans were screaming at the sky.

Stephen Curry, returning to the lineup after a six-game absence due to a right ankle sprain, lasted 25 minutes before sustaining another injury, this one a sprain to his left MCL. The two-time MVP will undergo an MRI test Saturday.

“I pray to God,” McGee said, “that nothing’s wrong with him.”

The injury occurred with 3:09 left in the third quarter. After biting on a pump fake by Atlanta forward Mike Muscala, McGee wound up tumbling backward, with his 270 pounds landing directly at the front Curry legs. Curry immediately started limping away, with the sellout crowd at Oracle Arena gasping in horror.

“I was trying to block a shot,” McGee said beneath a vacant stare, “and I ran into him.”

That’s the kind of month it has been for the Warriors. All four of their All-Stars have been knocked out of action by an array of injuries.

Curry went down March 8 after tweaking his surgically repaired right ankle. Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson were injured March 11 at Minnesota, Durant sustaining a rib cartilage injury after taking a elbow from 7-foot Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns and Thompson spraining his right thumb after making contact with Minnesota point guard Jeff Teague.

Draymond Green began the next week as the team’s only healthy All-Star, a distinction that lasted eight days before he was struck down with a pelvic contusion Monday night in San Antonio.

“It’s like a juju or something on us,” McGee said. “I’ve never been part of a team where everybody just got injured, especially the starters. It’s kind of scary to tell the truth.”

Durant, Thompson and Green were unavailable Friday night, which is why Curry’s return was so encouraging. After a 2-point first quarter during which he went 1-of-6 from the floor, Curry found his stroke and over his next 16 minutes scored 27 points on 9-of-12 shooting.

Then came the most frightening moment of the night, throwing a massive damper on a 106-94 victory.

“I assumed it was his ankle when he came out hobbling and I found it was his knee,” coach Steve Kerr said. “We will see what the MRI says tomorrow.

“There is not a whole lot we can do or predict. It’s kind of a strange, cruel twist of fate. He rehabs his ankle for the last couple of weeks and gets that strong and the knee goes. We’ll see what happens. Fingers crossed.”

The Warriors came out of the All-Star break fairly healthy and ready to make a run at the No. 1 overall seed. They’ve achieved it in each of the last three seasons, coming away with two championships.

Hopes of getting there this season have disappeared under a pile of injuries, all of them coming over the last 16 days. As of late Friday night, there was no knowing how serious Curry’s injury is, or how long he might be out.

What’s known is that it was another in a succession of frightful moments.

“It’s a little somber in there,” Kerr said of the locker room. “Everybody feels for Steph. But it’s more a case of just keep going and keep pushing forward. We’ll come into tomorrow, short practice and get ready for Utah.”

That’s at the request of the schedule. That’s a dose of NBA reality on a grim night.

McGee didn’t seem ready for that. He was feeling awful about the entire episode.

“I can’t describe it,” he said of the play that followed everyone into the night. “Everybody has a TV. I fell into him and . . . I know y’all (reporters) don’t think I’m standing here like, ‘Yes, I fell into him.’

“That’s a star player. Of course, we don’t want him to be injured, especially after he came back. So I feel very bad for the fact that I was a part of that.”

McGee said he hopes Curry is out no more than a couple games.

The Warriors would be ever so pleased if it’s a couple weeks. They want to be whole for the postseason,, the only season by which they will be measured and a season that, on this night, nobody was of a mood to visualize.

Curry limps to locker room with left MCL sprain, does not return vs Hawks

Curry limps to locker room with left MCL sprain, does not return vs Hawks

OAKLAND -- Stephen Curry lasted 25 minutes Friday night before limping out of another game.

He was diagnosed with a sprained left MCL and did not return after sustaining the injury.

Curry came up limping after center JaVale McGee, leaping for a rebound, tumbled backward into his lower legs with 3:09 remaining in the third quarter of the Warriors-Hawks game at Oracle Arena.

Immediately, the sellout crowd let out a collective groan.

Curry, his face a mask of dejection, headed for the bench, where he was examined by Warriors physical performance specialist Chelsea Lane. The two then headed into the locker room.

Curry scored a team-high 29 points and grabbed seven rebounds before leaving the game. This was his first appearance since March 8, when he tweaked his surgically repaired right ankle, causing him to miss six games.

Curry has missed 21 of the team’s 71 games. He will undergo an MRI on Saturday, and his status beyond that is yet to be determined. 

This story is being updated.