CLEVELAND — The Golden State Warriors continued their recent dominance of the Cavaliers, who continued only their recent struggles in general.
Cleveland played a little better for three quarters, but a horrendous fourth period led to a 118-108 defeat to Golden State on Monday night at Quicken Loans Arena.
Golden State, which improved to an NBA-best 36-9, has defeated the Cavs in seven of their last eight meetings. Cleveland (26-17) lost its fourth straight game overall and for the ninth time in 12 games while having its 13-game home winning streak halted.
Down two, the Cavs missed 15 of their first 17 shots in the fourth quarter as the Warriors pulled away. Cleveland finished with 17 points in the quarter on 6-for-23 shooting.
“We had an opportunity,” four-time league MVP LeBron James said. “It seemed like the rim got smaller and smaller.”
It shrunk for a reason. The Cavs didn’t push the pace, resorted to their age-old habit of playing isolation basketball and couldn’t make the handful of open shots they got.
“That fourth quarter, our ball movement wasn’t there,” center Kevin Love said. “We weren’t pushing the pace and we were settling for jump shots.”
Kevin Durant, the 2017 NBA Finals MVP, led Golden State with 32 points, five rebounds and eight assists, while two-time league MVP Steph Curry had 23 points, four boards and eight assists. Klay Thompson added 17 points and Draymond Green overcame 5-for-14 shooting to post 11 points, 16 rebounds and nine assists.
“You can’t have a lot of error against them,” Love said. “That’s been the case for the last several years.”
James led the Cavs with 32 points on 12-for-18 shooting, eight boards, six assists and four vicious blocks, but he went just 4-for-8 at the line in the second half and committed eight turnovers on the night.
Isaiah Thomas had 19 points on 8-for-21 from the field overall and 1-for-7 on 3-pointers as the Cavs finished 7-for-28 from behind the arc. Love had 17 points and seven boards, but just seven points came after the first period.
“If I.T. makes some shots, it’s a different game,” Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue said. “But we can’t expect him to be great right now.
“We’ve just got to keep plugging away,” he added. “He’ll figure it out.”
Having often used 11 players in the first half of the season, Lue stuck to a nine-man rotation against the Warriors, with Dwyane Wade, Jeff Green, Tristan Thompson and Kyle Korver seeing action off the bench while Cedi Osman, Jose Calderon and Channing Frye watched until garbage time.
That group helped the Cavs lead by seven at intermission, but Cleveland didn’t get the job done in the fourth quarter.
“Comfort in losing?” James responded when asked if positives could be taken from having a chance to win on a poor-shooting night by the Cavs. “No.”
Up two heading into the fourth quarter and with Durant and Curry resting, the Warriors outscored the Cavs 12-4 over the first 6:16 to go up 105-95.
The Cavs were 2-for-17 from the field in the period at that point, with Love air-balling a 10-footer and Cleveland badly missing its three 3-point attempts.
James’ eighth turnover of the night led to a Nick Young three soon after, putting Golden State up 113-99 with 3:33 to play.
“We got a little stagnant,” Thomas said after playing a season-high 32 minutes. “We weren’t getting good shots. In that situation, when we’re not really scoring, we’ve got to execute a lot better.”
When it mattered most, Golden State defended and executed offensively, while the Cavs didn’t.
Durant had 16 of the Warriors’ 36 points in the third quarter as Golden State turned its seven-point halftime deficit into a 93-91 lead.
It could have been worse, but Curry missed a long 3-pointer and Cleveland scored the final four points of the quarter to make it a two-point game.
“I thought we did some really good things for three quarters,” Lue said. “We didn’t finish the game the way we wanted to.”
The first half ended on a positive note for the Cavs as Wade came up with an open-court steal, drove and threw a perfect lob to Jeff Green for a dunk that gave Cleveland a 64-57 lead.
James had 20 points on 8-for-10 shooting from the field and 4-for-5 at the line at that point, as well as several sensational plays. First, he threw down a resounding dunk off a Thomas lob, then he swatted a Durant driving layup attempt off the glass, both to the delight of most of the 20,562 fans in attendance.
In the end, though, all the Cavs had to show for the night was their fourth straight loss and ninth in 12 games.
“Obviously, things haven’t been pretty lately,” Love said. “We haven’t been putting together 48-minute stretches.”
Warriors 118, Cavs 108
GOLDEN STATE (118): Durant 9-16 10-10 32, D.Green 5-14 1-2 11, Bell 2-3 2-2 6, Curry 8-15 3-4 23, K.Thompson 7-12 0-0 17, Young 2-3 0-0 5, Looney 1-1 3-4 5, West 1-4 2-2 4, Pachulia 0-0 0-0 0, Livingston 3-5 0-0 6, McCaw 0-1 0-0 0, Iguodala 3-11 3-6 9. Totals 41-85 24-30 118.
CLEVELAND (108): James 12-18 8-13 32, Crowder 3-7 0-0 7, Love 5-9 4-5 17, Thomas 8-21 2-2 19, Smith 4-8 0-0 8, Osman 0-0 0-0 0, J.Green 3-9 0-0 6, Frye 1-1 0-0 3, T.Thompson 1-4 0-0 2, Zizic 0-0 0-0 0, Calderon 0-0 1-2 1, Wade 5-14 0-0 10, Korver 1-3 0-0 3. Totals 43-94 15-22 108.
Golden State 35 22 36 25 — 118
Cleveland 37 27 27 17 — 108
3-Point Goals—Golden State 12-32 (Durant 4-6, Curry 4-8, K.Thompson 3-6, Young 1-2, McCaw 0-1, Iguodala 0-4, D.Green 0-5), Cleveland 7-28 (Love 3-5, Frye 1-1, Korver 1-3, Crowder 1-4, Thomas 1-7, Smith 0-1, Wade 0-2, James 0-2, J.Green 0-3). Fouled Out—None. Rebounds—Golden State 48 (D.Green 16), Cleveland 43 (T.Thompson, James 8). Assists—Golden State 33 (D.Green 9), Cleveland 26 (James 6). Total Fouls—Golden State 23, Cleveland 22. A—20,562 (20,562).
- Commentary: Cavaliers have no excuse for giving no effort
- Cavaliers: Tyronn Lue puts Tristan Thompson in starting lineup, removes Jae Crowder in attempt to stop slide
- Playoffs? Playoffs? Tyronn Lue feels certain postseaon in Cavs' future despite recent struggles, overall dysfunction
- Cavs: In their usual January swoon, LeBron and Co. being questioned again
- Lue not ready to panic as Cavs' skid continues
- Better days? LeBron James says Cavaliers' turnaround has to start with his own improved play
- LeBron James: Martin Luther King Jr.'s vision just as important today
- Cavs notes: Ready for the postseason? Not Cavs