Kurt Helin

Cavaliers bring intense, active defense, offense follows in 120-90 rout of Warriors in Game 3


On the first possession of the game, Stephen Curry walked the ball up and was met by Kyrie Irving out higher than he had been all series, just a few steps over half court. Irving got into Curry’s body. It was a sign of things to come — Cleveland brought an energy and, more importantly, constant activity on the defensive end all night. It disrupted the Warriors.

That defense fueled their offense, LeBron James at the four was explosive setting a tone, and back in the comfort of their home — and with a raucous crowd behind them — suddenly Kyrie Irving and J.R. Smith were sharpshooters again. Pace and spacing returned to the Cavalier offense, and behind a team attacking the rim and moving the ball Cleveland raced out to a fast 20 point lead in the first quarter. The Cavaliers are a dangerous front-running team, and they were overwhelming a Golden State team that seemed caught off guard by Cleveland’s intensity.

“We weren’t ready to play” Warriors’ coach Steve Kerr said. “Obviously, they just punched us right in the mouth right in the beginning. We’re turning the ball over like crazy. Soft, we were extremely soft to start the game, and then they set the tone with their intensity. I think it was 9-0, and we had to call timeout. Steph got beat back door, couple turnovers. Just a horrible way to start.”

Still, the question remained: How would the Cavaliers respond when the Warriors went on a run? Which Golden State did in the second half to cut the lead to eight at the half.

Cleveland responded like a team worthy of a ring. They opened the second half on a 7-0 run, stretching the lead out to 22 again and running away with the game. This series (and these playoffs) have had a lot of blowouts.

Cleveland won Game 3 120-90, making this a 2-1 series in favor of Golden State. This was the most lopsided Golden State playoff loss since Steve Kerr took over as Warriors’ coach.

Game 4 is Friday night in Cleveland — it will tell us a lot about both teams. And how long this series might go.

“I just think it’s two words, physicality, and aggressiveness,” Cavaliers’ coach Tyronn Lue said. “I thought we were very physical defensively, and I thought we were aggressive offensively, attacking the basket, getting out in transition, running the floor. We talked about it before, that opens up shots for J.R. Smith and those guys in transition. So that’s how we have to play.”

The Cavaliers were without Kevin Love, who is sidelined with a concussion, and with Richard Jefferson starting in his place the Cleveland defense was far more active and alert. It leaves Tyronn Lue with some challenges if Love is cleared to return Friday for Game 4 (Love needs to come off the bench or at least play much short shifts, this series is not a good matchup for him).

It was the Cavaliers starters that won them this game. Kyrie Irving had 16 points in the first quarter and 30 for the game, LeBron had 32, and Smith added 20. It literally was just them — through three quarters the Cavaliers bench had zero points.

Stephen Curry was just terrible in this game. He finished with 19 points and for a stretch in the fourth found his three point shot again, but he was 3-of-9 from deep overall. He started slow, with just two points in the first half. More troublesome was his six turnovers on the he. And his poor defense, which Cleveland attacked all night (and got him in foul trouble). Things were so bad for Curry that at one point that Kerr benched him for Shaun Livingston.

“He did not start the game well,” Kerr said. “Turned it over, got beat back door, and he was not his usual self. Now, it happens sometimes. I mean, that’s what everybody was saying about them the last two games.”

Klay Thompson had 10 points, Draymond Green 6 — that combined 35 was the lowest output from the Warriors big three all season.

Credit the Cavaliers defense for that, which was much better from the opening tip.

Cavaliers much more energy defensively to start, Warriors offense is aimless — Curry and Thompson both had airballs — and the Cavaliers were moving better on offense. Race out to a 9-0 lead. That lead stretched out to 15 as the Cavaliers attacked the rim and the Warriors started 0-of-6 from three.

Kyrie Irving was hot early, 16 first quarter points and started feeling it with the Uncle Drew side steps and hitting threes. He looked far more comfortable.

Meanwhile, Curry and Thompson had zero points in the first quarter, and it was 33-16 Cavs after one.

Early in the second, it was the Warriors bench — as it has been all series — the Warriors bench was their spark. They opened the second on a 7-0 run and pushed the lead down to nine at one point. Warriors defense settles down, and the Cavaliers opened the second half 3-of-17 to start the second half, they also were just slow getting in their offense, again letting Warriors set. Golden State cut the Cleveland lead to 51-43 at the half, just eight points.

“I thought tonight even when they made runs, we kept our composure,” Lue said. “We stayed with it, we stayed physical, we continued to play hard, and we didn’t let it deflate us.”

The Cavaliers opened the second half on a 7-0 run with the starters again, and they stretch the lead back up to 19 thanks to a much better defense and hitting their threes in transition, taking the lead up to 22 on a LeBron three.

Later in the third the Warriors started to find a bit of an offensive groove when they went small (why was Anderson Varejao in at all?) but by this point the Cavaliers were full of confidence. LeBron was hitting jumpers (which he missed the first two games), Smith was feeling it, and the Cavaliers were flying around on defense. The Warriors could not close the gap.

Watch Kyrie Irving cross up Stephen Curry during Cavs’ hot first quarter

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The Kyrie Irving we saw in the first quarter of Game 3 was a completely different person than the sluggish guy who we had seen in the Bay Area.

Irving was 7-of-9 shooting from the floor, 2-of-3 from beyond the arc, and had 16 points. He was electric and the Cavs raced out to a 20-point lead.

The highlight — Irving turned the tables on Stephen Curry and made him look the fool.

76ers coach says Rooks had promising career before death

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PHILADELPHIA (AP) 76ers coach Brett Brown said Wednesday that Sean Rooks had promising prospects for his coaching career before his death.

The former NBA center and 76ers assistant coach died Tuesday at age 46, after interviewing earlier in the day for a job with the New York Knicks.

Brown said Rooks meant a lot to many people.

“Sean Rooks was a wonderful person with a kind soul who deserved to live longer than he did,” Brown said. “Sean was with me for two years and helped our young players and coaching staff by sharing his experiences in such an endearing way.”

Brown says he met with Rooks recently to help him prepare for an interview to become the head coach of an NBA developmental team.

“When he was offered the position just a few days later, we spoke of the challenges, growth and responsibility that would help him personally move his career forward as a head coach,” Brown said. “He was genuinely excited by this offer, as well as other job opportunities that were coming his way.”

The cause of Rooks’ death has not been disclosed.

Rooks had visited with Knicks President Phil Jackson and general manager Steve Mills for an assistant coaching position on Jeff Hornacek’s staff. He had spent the past two years on Brett Brown’s staff in Philadelphia.

Rooks played 12 seasons after being selected in the second round of the NBA draft by Dallas in 1992. He averaged 6.2 points in 749 games with seven teams.

Rooks’ son, Kameron, is a 7-footer playing for California. He also is survived by another child, Khayla, and his mother, Deborah Brown.

Report: Kevin Love “really frustrated” by decision not to let him play in Game 3


Kevin Love wants to play in Game 3 of the NBA Finals Wednesday night. He’s been lobbying for it with the team.

He’s not going to — he has not been cleared through the NBA’s concussion protocol. He will be in street clothes. And he is not happy about it, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.

Three thoughts:

First, he can be mad at the Cavaliers if he wants but this largely out of their hands. Tyronn Lue doesn’t get to make this call, GM David Griffin doesn’t get to make this call, nor should they. To play Love needs to go through a series of tests and physical activities without symptoms, then have the results of those approved by both the Cavaliers team doctor and a neutral, league-appointed neurologist. The Cavaliers do not have the final say here (team doctors can be influenced).

Second, the system is set up to eliminate (or come close to it) game-time decisions regarding concussions. Which is how it should be. We are talking about brain health here, we are talking about very competitive people being asked to self-report symptoms, this is not a sprained ankle that you can just tape up. More caution needs to be taken.

Third, Love is far from the first player frustrated by the system. Again, these are competitive players used to a mentality of playing through pain and injuries; that doesn’t mean they should be allowed to.

The most interesting question out of all of this to me: Are the Cavs better off with him out?

Andre Drummond swat’s a kid’s shot into the second row (VIDEO)

Andre Drummond

Did Andre Drummond learn this from Kevin Durant?

KD shows no mercy to the cute youth excited to play with him, then who try to drive on him.

Now it’s Andre Drummond’s turn. This isn’t fair, nor is it cool the adult on the kid’s team high fives Drummond for the move. It’s kind of funny, though.

(Hat tip NBA Reddit)