Warriors rout Cavaliers in Finals rematch

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[January 19, 2016]  (The Sports Xchange) - Stephen Curry scored 35 points, including seven three-pointers, in just three quarters as Golden State pounded the Cavaliers 132-98 in Cleveland on Monday in an NBA Finals rematch.

The Cavs (28-11) narrowly avoided their worst ever home loss while the Warriors (38-4) swept the season series and have won the last five games between the teams.

"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 suffered just their second home loss this season but 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.

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

"Tonight was an example of how far we have to go to be a championship team," said James, who scored 16 points.

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.

Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love shot a combined four-for-16 and totaled 11 points. Love's only basket was a three-pointer late in the first half.

"They definitely played like the champions," Irving said.

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

The Warriors shot 54.1 percent and made 19 three-pointers.

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 when they clinched the Finals in Game Six.

The quip did not go down well in Cleveland.

"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.

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

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

Frustration set in for the Cavs in the second half.

Smith was assessed a 'flagrant-2' foul and ejected for running through Harrison Barnes' screen early in the third quarter, and James was whistled for a technical for pushing 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 does not 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."

(Editing by Peter Rutherford)

[ 2016 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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