OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Golden State took another step toward securing the top seed in the West, yet coach Steve Kerr has some legitimate concerns as the Warriors close in on the postseason.
Specifically, Kerr is bothered by the Warriors’ turnovers and rebounding, two issues that cropped up again and turned what looked to be another blowout into a closer-than-needed 120-114 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday night.
Draymond Green understands Kerr’s reasoning, but thinks the two-time defending NBA champs will be just fine once the playoffs begin.
Stephen Curry scored 40 points to move into third place on Golden State’s career list, and the Warriors won despite Golden State’s 13 turnovers and getting outrebounded 12-4 by the Cavs on the offensive end.
“It’s just a focus thing,” Green said of the Warriors’ inconsistencies. “When you’re playing against teams that don’t quite match up talent-wise and are not really playing for anything, it’s hard to keep that focus. It hasn’t bothered me one bit because we’ve locked in at stretches and we’ve had that focus for stretches, and that’s important.”
The game had a lot less hype than previous seasons when the Warriors and Cavaliers squared off in four straight NBA Finals. While Golden State is headed back to the postseason for a possible third consecutive championship, Cleveland is limping to the finish with hopes of getting the No. 1 overall pick in the draft.
That’s why Kerr seemed so bothered by his team’s breakdowns.
“They had about 17 or 18 more possessions than we did,” Kerr said. “That’s kind of our specialty. We like to give other teams an advantage and then have to shoot our way out of it.”
Green had 20 points and eight rebounds, Kevin Durant added 15 points and eight assists, and Quinn Cook scored 14 to help the Warriors (55-24) inch closer to clinching the Western Conference in their second-to-last regular-season game at Oracle Arena.
With 16,283 points, Curry trails only Wilt Chamberlain (17,783) and Rick Barry (16,447) on the Warriors’ career scoring charts.
The Warriors need one more win or a loss by Denver to secure the top spot and home court advantage in the West.
Curry is a big reason why Golden State is back on top despite a sometimes tumultuous season. The two-time MVP made 9 of 12 3s and had seven assists in the wire-to-wire win, the Warriors’ ninth consecutive over the Cavaliers.
“You knew Steph was going to have a good night because he had a tough night last night,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “He rarely has an off night two nights in a row. He was great right from the outset tonight.”
Collin Sexton scored 27 points, one night after becoming the third rookie in Cavaliers history to reach 1,300 points. Cleveland has lost seven straight.
“I thought our guys did a good job of continuing to compete and taking the ball to the basket,” Cavs coach Larry Drew said. “We recognize the fact of where we are and who we are at this particular stage. But again, the most important thing is that we continue to plat at a high level, and we did that tonight.”
Golden State led by 21, then had to hold off a late flurry by Cleveland.
Larry Nance Jr. scored seven points as part of a 12-4 run. Then, Sexton scored on a 3-pointer and reverse layup to pull the Cavs within three points at 115-112.
Curry made his ninth 3-pointer, then added two free throws with 7.4 seconds remaining.
GETTING THE GOLD
Green presented Nick Young with his championship ring from last season during a ceremony before the game, but the celebration lasted longer than expected and the Warriors were issued a warning for delay of game before tip-off.
“The last two years, we’ve had five or six of those celebrations and it usually spills over,” Curry said. “I wish (the referee) would have just gave it to Nick Young because he was taking his sweet time, as he should have.”
Cavaliers: Brandon Knight was called for a technical foul in the third quarter. … Thompson returned to the lineup after getting a day off Thursday in Sacramento. … Matthew Dellavedova remains in concussion protocol.
Warriors: Klay Thompson scored 11 points and went 1 of 7 on 3s. … DeMarcus Cousins (load management) and Andre Igoudala (sore left toe) were held out.
Cavaliers: Host San Antonio on Sunday.
Warriors: Host the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday.
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