OffbeatIn rout of Cavaliers, Warriors show just how much has changed in six months

09:55  06 december  2018
09:55  06 december  2018 Source:   sfchronicle.com

Kevin Durant's 49 points carry Warriors past Magic 116-110

Kevin Durant's 49 points carry Warriors past Magic 116-110 Kevin Durant scored a season-high 49 points, giving Golden State the lead on a three-point play with 1:19 left before hitting a 3-pointer with 22 seconds remaining to send the Warriors past the Orlando Magic, 116-110 on Monday night. BOX SCORE: WARRIORS 116, MAGIC 110 Durant topped his 44-point performance two nights earlier with another brilliant outing on both ends — and Klay Thompson was his scoring sidekick once more as the two-time defending NBA champions played without injured All-Stars Stephen Curry and Draymond Green. Thompson hit his sixth 3 of the night to tie it with 1:45 left and finished with 29 points.

all that has changed in less than six months . In its 129-105 rout of Cleveland on Wednesday night, Golden State showed just how much the talent gap between these two teams has widened. “I thought they competed really hard,” Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said of the Cavaliers .

The Warriors are just two wins away from being back-to-back champions, and the competitive spirit Even with the decent adjustments, Cleveland is trailing 19-14 with just over six minutes left in the first quarter. If the Cavaliers can maintain this intensity when the Warriors start missing some shots

CLEVELAND — As he jogged onto the court for pregame warmups Wednesday evening, Warriors forward Kevin Durant saw a sea of maroon seats and thought about all that has changed in less than six months.

One hundred and eighty days earlier, Golden State had silenced a raucous Quicken Loans Arena crowd with a Game 4 win to cap its NBA Finals sweep of the Cavaliers. Now, in the Warriors’ first trip back to Cleveland since hoisting the 2017-18 Larry O’Brien trophy, Durant was feeling nostalgic.

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Max Kellerman and Stephen A. Smith share their thoughts on why the Golden State Warriors would be favored to win the NBA title right now over the Cleveland Cavaliers , but Cleveland can change the narrative.

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LeBron James’ decision to sign with the Lakers in July had forced the Cavaliers to rebuild and ended one of the greatest rivalries of the modern NBA. In its 129-105 win Wednesday over Cleveland, Golden State showed just how much the talent gap between these two teams has widened.

Left in James’ wake is a cast of spare parts, an injured Kevin Love and a few young players the franchise hopes to groom into key building blocks. Though the Cavaliers played inspired, they ultimately couldn’t overcome a dazzling performance from Stephen Curry.

In his third game back from a groin injury that sidelined him three weeks, Curry continued to bolster his case for a third career MVP award. In 34 minutes, he toyed with Cleveland, mixing between scoop shots, deep three-pointers and dizzying dribbling displays.

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To score 42 points, Curry shot 11-for-20 from the field, including 9-for-14 from three-point range. It was Curry’s second 40-point game of the season and the 32nd of his career. In addition to dishing out seven assists, he corralled nine rebounds.

Durant was masterful in his own right as he flirted with a triple-double, posting 25 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists. The Warriors finished 52.9 percent from the field, 18-for-34 (52.9 percent) from three-point range and 21-for-24 (87.5 percent) from the foul line.

After Curry poured in nine points in less than a minute midway through the fourth quarter to give Golden State a 19-point lead, the Cavaliers didn’t threaten. The Warriors, who won NBA titles at Quicken Loans Arena in 2015 and 2018, are now riding an eight-game winning streak against their former rivals.

"Obviously, it’s different," Durant said. "They don’t have a championship-caliber team, but they have a young team that is up-and-coming. It’s just a different feel."

Warriors return to pass-happy blueprint in rout of Hawks

Warriors return to pass-happy blueprint in rout of Hawks The Warriors opened the season 10-1, only to suddenly endure injuries to key players, a rift between Draymond Green and Kevin Durant, and a rash of losses. In its 128-111 win Monday night over the Hawks at State Farm Arena, Golden State finally returned to the pass-happy, free-flowing style that has defined its three championship runs in the past four years. That it came against one of the NBA’s worst teams hardly seemed to matter for a Golden State franchise eager to recapture its usual dominance.

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One artist, for example, had filmed videos of animals through coloured glass and another had added music – they worked really well. There were also action photos. One was of a bear that had climbed up a tree in a garden in Canada and refused to come down.

After weeks of hearing about the demise of their rivalry with Golden State, the Cavaliers got plenty of bulletin-board material Tuesday when The Athletic published an article loaded with not-so-friendly quotes from the Warriors. The one that had social media abuzz was courtesy of Klay Thompson, who derided Cleveland’s 1-8 record in the past two Finals, calling them "bums" and "idiots."

Wednesday afternoon, after shoot-around, Draymond Green — out with a sprained right toe — posted a video to Instagram of the visitors’ locker room with the caption, "They got rid of the champagne fumes this time." It was a nod to Curry’s 2016 remark that he hoped the locker room still smelled like Champagne from Golden State’s 2015 championship celebration.

Such slights seemed to fuel the Cavaliers. Two nights after winning just its fifth game of the season, against Brooklyn, Cleveland used a balanced attack to enter halftime up 64-58 on the back-to-back NBA champions.

Even then, the Cavaliers’ odds of escaping with a victory were long. Without Love (left foot surgery), their best players are someone who was benched for much of the 2018 NBA Finals (Rodney Hood), an inconsistent rookie (Collin Sexton) and a player perhaps best known for his appearances on "Keeping Up with the Kardashians" (Tristan Thompson).

Home on the road: Golden State Warriors find friendly arenas nationwide

Home on the road: Golden State Warriors find friendly arenas nationwide The Warriors take over every town they enter. The Warriors are a sleek machine, as adept at generating storylines as baskets. On this night, a routine Monday-night December game in Atlanta, Golden State’s lone visit to Atlanta will spur half a dozen different stories: Kerr on the comparisons between Curry and Trae Young; Curry running out of patience with those comparisons; Kevin Durant getting trolled by Atlanta fans; KD giving it right back to other fans; and Klay Thompson dismissing comparisons between the Warriors and the Hawks. Oh yeah, and there was a game too, a runaway 128-111 Warriors rout.

"I thought they competed really hard," Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said of Cleveland. "In the first half, they knocked down shots. They controlled the whole half and totally outplayed us. Our talent took over in the second half."

Golden State will finish its five-game trip in Milwaukee on Friday. With Giannis Antetokounmpo leading the way, the Bucks are one of four Eastern Conference teams — Philadelphia, Toronto and Boston are the others — that seemingly have a chance to take over Cleveland’s spot in the NBA Finals.

Asked whether the Cavaliers have become just another game on the schedule, Curry smirked, nodded and said, "Yeah."

Connor Letourneau is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: cletourneau@sfchronicle.com. Twitter: @Con_Chron

Related Slideshow: Best of the 2018-19 NBA season (provided by USA Today Sports)

In rout of Cavaliers, Warriors show just how much has changed in six months

Raptors rout Warriors 113-93 without Kawhi to complete sweep.
Kyle Lowry had 23 points and 12 assists to lead a balanced Toronto offense while leading scorer Kawhi Leonard sat out, Serge Ibaka added 20 points and the Raptors dominated Golden State from the start, beating the Warriors 113-93 to complete a season sweep. Danny Green scored 15 points, Pascal Siakam had 13 and Fred VanVleet added 10 to help the Raptors improve to an NBA-best 23-7, matching the best start in franchise history. BOX SCORE: RAPTORS 113, WARRIORS 93 They did it despite not having Leonard for a second consecutive night. Toronto's star forward has a sore right hip and was questionable before the game before being ruled out less than 30 minutes before tip-off.

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