CLEVELAND (AP) – The shots splashed through the net like they almost always do for the Golden State Warriors.
However, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson didn’t launch any. Jordan Poole scored 32 points, Ty Jerome added 22 and the Warriors dropped 23 three-pointers while Curry and three other starters sat on the bench in a 120-114 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers yesterday.
Poole and Jerome combined for eight three-pointers as the defending NBA champs ended a five-game trip with an improbable win.
“We kind of hung on for dear life down the stretch, but got it done,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “It was just one of those nights. You play 82 games, so you know you’re going to have a few of these.”
Following Golden State’s stinging three-point overtime loss on Thursday night in Boston, Kerr rested Curry along with fellow first-teamers Thompson, Draymond Green and Andrew Wiggins.
It didn’t matter. Even with their top players on the bench in street clothes, the short-handed Warriors came out firing and barely slowed down.
Darius Garland scored 31 points to lead the Cavs, who were without star Donovan Mitchell because of a strained groin and suffered their most embarrassing loss this season. Caris LeVert added 22 points and Evan Mobley 17 for Cleveland.
Afterward, Cavs coach J B Bickerstaff didn’t mince words in describing his team’s dismal performance. “We didn’t respect the game. It’s that simple,” he said. “They’ve got champions over there, and we thought some of those guys were out so we were going to take it lightly and we got what we deserved.”
Golden State made a season-high 14 three-pointers in the first half – tying the most ever by a Cavs opponent for a half – to take a 64-59 halftime lead.
Although Bickerstaff stressed limiting Golden State’s outside attack at halftime, his team didn’t get the message as the Warriors made five 3s in the first five minutes to open a 20-point lead.
The Cavs, who have 11 comeback wins when trailing by double digits, fought back and pulled within 114-110. But Jerome dropped the Warriors’ final three-pointer with 1:39 left.
“They’re good basketball players, and if you’re going to disrespect them, they’re going to make you pay,” Bickerstaff said.
“We came out of the gate soft and disrespectful and they were out there shooting warm-up shots with no contest, no challenges, nobody in their space and they gave us what we deserved.”