Warriors

Warriors

OAKLAND – The Cavaliers were going to be better this time, healthier than before, allowing for a truer indication of how they might have fared against the Warriors in the NBA Finals last June.

The result, however, was the same. The Rematch, in glossy Christmas wrapping, was an eyesore of a game, as the Cavs would want it, and still the Warriors prevailed.

The 2015 NBA champions successfully defended their crown in the showcase game of the league’s Christmas Day schedule, slogging off with an 89-83 victory before 19,596 exuberant fans at sold-out Oracle Arena.

It was the lowest-scoring game of the season for the Warriors, who fell into Cleveland’s deliberate pace and rarely were able to crank it up on offense.

“It’s good for us,” interim coach Luke Walton said. “Those types of games are going to happen in the playoffs where it’s tough to score and tough to get into that high-flowing offense. We are going to expect to play like that in the playoffs, but it’s good to practice and get experience in that type of game as well with the low scoring, getting stops, knocking down free throws and executing in the half court.”

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Despite taking a three-point lead late in the first half and never losing it, the Warriors posted season lows in numerous categories, from points in a quarter (17 in the second) to points in a half (44 in the second) to field goals made (32) and 3-pointers made (five).

 

Stephen Curry was 6-of-15, Klay Thompson 6-of-16. Brandon Rush was 0-of-5, Andre Iguodala 1-of-6. The Warriors aside from Shaun Livingston (a dazzling 8-of-9 for 16 points) were 24-of-69, which comes to 34.8 percent.

The Warriors aside from Draymond Green (22 points on 8-of-17 shooting) and Livingston were 16-of-52, a paltry 30.8 percent, and 3-of-15 from deep.

“That was the style that they wanted to play and they imposed their will on the game, they had the tempo where they wanted it,” Green said. “But for us to win that game, that’s good on our part and it shows that we can win in any type of game.”

And while the Warriors defense was generally acceptable and sometimes good, the Cavaliers simply couldn’t find the bucket. They put up 17 more shots than the Warriors and somehow managed two fewer baskets.

“Yeah, there (were) a lot of little things as far as the shots were concerned that on another day it doesn’t happen,” Cleveland coach David Blatt said. “We were close but not close enough, unfortunately, and that did catch up with us.”

Said Cavs star LeBron James: “Offensively we just didn’t have it. No one had it. We just tried to continue to give ourselves an opportunity. Myself, I wasn’t very good offensively, inefficient. That just trickled down to everybody else and we missed out on a great opportunity.”

Not only did the Cavs put up more shots, but they also committed fewer turnovers (16 to 11) and grabbed more rebounds (55-49). They also snapped the Warriors’ streak of 47 consecutive home games with at least 100 points.

The Cavs, however, were unable to prevent the Warriors from winning their fourth consecutive game and their 32nd in a row at Oracle, while raising their home record to 14-0 this season. The Warriors are the first team since the 1996-97 Bulls to win 32 home games in a row.

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It wasn’t a classic Warriors game by any stretch, and only some of that had to do with Cleveland’s game plan and tenacity. The Warriors, with Green and Livingston carrying the weight, basically outlasted the team they beat in the NBA Finals.

They beat the Cavs at their own game, with Kevin Love (10 points on 5-of-16 shooting) and Kyrie Irving (13 on 4-of-15) running alongside LeBron.

“Yeah, it shows that if we have to grind it out, we will and if the shot is not falling we can always control how we play on the defensive end and that’s what we did tonight,” Thompson said. “We had guys step up. It was an ugly game but we made the right adjustments and we came out with a win.”

It’s as potent a statement as can be made in December, certainly until the teams meet again on Jan. 18 in Cleveland.