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Golden State Warriors obliterate Cleveland Cavaliers in Finals rematch

By The Sports Xchange   |   Jan. 19, 2016 at 12:43 AM

CLEVELAND -- Stephen Curry returned to Cleveland hoping to smell champagne. He left smelling blood.

After a brief lapse, the Golden State Warriors appear to have their swagger back.

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Curry scored 35 points, including seven 3-pointers, in just three quarters, and the Warriors pounded the Cleveland Cavaliers 132-98 Monday in an NBA Finals rematch.

The Cavs (28-11) narrowly avoided their worst home loss in franchise history. The Warriors (38-4) swept the season series and have won the last five games between the teams dating back to the Finals, including the game-clinching Game 6 that ended with a celebration in the visitors' locker room.

"That's who we know we can be," Warriors interim coach Luke Walton said. "They were absolutely phenomenal tonight. We can't really ask to play much better than that."

The Cavs took just their second home loss this season, but they were never really in it. They trailed by 26 at the half and fell behind by 43 in the second half -- their largest deficit of the season. The 43-point hole also marks the largest in LeBron James' career in the forward's 1,127th game, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

Cleveland's worst-ever home loss was a 114-75 setback to the Chicago Bulls on Jan. 20, 2012.

"Tonight was an example of how far we have to go to be a championship team," James said.

James scored 16 points and guard J.R. Smith had 14 for the Cavs, who fell to 0-3 this season against the West's elite -- the Warriors and San Antonio Spurs. Cleveland guard Kyrie Irving and forward Kevin Love shot a combined 4-for-16 and totaled 11 points. Love's only basket was a 3-pointer late in the first half. All of the stars were out of the game by the start of the fourth quarter.

"They definitely played like the champions," Irving said. "They came in and just kicked our (rear). We've just got to call it plain in what it was."

The Warriors entered having dropped two of their last three games, including an 18-point loss at the Detroit Pistons on Saturday. That loss seemed to reawaken the giants, who stormed to a 24-0 start this season.

The Warriors shot 54.1 percent and made 19 3-pointers, delivering yet another staggering statement to the rest of the league of how mighty and powerful they can be when fully engaged.

Curry said before arriving in Cleveland he hoped the visiting locker room still smelled like the hundreds of bottles of champagne the Warriors sprayed in it last June, a quip that quickly exploded.

"It was an overreaction to a comment," Curry said. "Obviously, when I walked into the locker room, that's the last time I was there. We had a trophy, we had champagne and we had goggles. We had a good time. So the first time anybody on our team walks in there, that's what we're going to feel. The way I said it, in a sarcastic way ... it is what it is.

"It smelled like Morton's, our caterer, after the game. That's a good smell."

Forward Draymond Green flirted with what would've been his ninth triple-double before finishing with 16 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds in three quarters, while Warriors guard Klay Thompson had 15 points.

Frustrations set in for the Cavs in the second half. Smith was assessed a flagrant-2 and ejected for running through forward Harrison Barnes' screen early in the third quarter, and James was whistled for a technical for pushing center Festus Ezeli.

"We had a breakdown and we didn't respond to it," Cavs coach David Blatt said. "That and the lack of mental preparation more than anything else really hurt us. I told my guys that it starts with me. If they're not mentally ready to play, I take responsibility for that."

For the second time this season, the Cavs fell behind by 30 or more points in a game. They were also blown out at the Portland Trail Blazers the night after they fell to the Warriors on Christmas Day.

Still, Walton doesn't believe the Warriors sweeping the season series in such emphatic fashion will give his team any type of edge should they meet again in June.

"To some teams, yeah. To a team that was in the NBA Finals last year and has LeBron James on it, it doesn't send anything," Walton said. "He's not going to let those guys get intimidated at all. I wouldn't imagine that does anything to them."

NOTES: Warriors coach Luke Walton said he had no problem with G Stephen Curry's champagne remark. "It's an honest statement. It was one of the greatest moments we've ever had in our lives," Walton said. "They shouldn't be shy or ashamed about how much they enjoyed winning." ... The Cavs and Warriors comprise eight of the 30 finalists for the U.S. Olympic men's team. Cleveland F LeBron James said he is undecided whether he will play this summer in Rio. ... G Mo Williams returned to the Cavs on Monday following the death of his uncle, but he didn't get off the bench. He hasn't played since Jan. 2. ... Cleveland G Matthew Dellavedova had no comment on a recent Los Angeles Times poll that named him the league's dirtiest player.

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