The Cavaliers recorded consecutive wins for the first time this season, riding a balanced attack led by Ricky Davis to a 124-103 victory over the Warriors, whose faint playoff hopes took a damaging blow.
Cleveland (14-56) had followed each of its previous wins with losses and was threatening to join the 1986-87 Los Angeles Clippers as the only teams to go an entire season without winning two in a row.
But the Cavaliers followed Sunday’s victory over New Jersey with one of their best efforts of the season, putting together wins for the first time since winning three in a row last April 6-10.
“Guys are coming together,” Davis said. “It took a while, but we just have to find that chemistry with every team and we just gotta keep rolling with it.”
Davis scored 28 points and fueled a decisive surge late in the third quarter. Rookie Carlos Boozer added 19 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists and was one of four Cavs to score in double figures.
The Cavs may have gotten behind Boozer, who was embarrassed by Warriors guard Jason Richardson in last month’s Rookie Challenge at All-Star Weekend. In the closing second, Richardson bounced the ball off Boozer’s head before sinking a 3-pointer.
“The team rallied behind Boozer and he went out and played a pretty good game and a smart game, instead of getting caught up in everything else that took place before,” Cavs coach Keith Smart said.
“It had no bearing on it,” Boozer said. “We came out here and played because we are getting better as a basketball team and that’s how we showed it on the court.”
This was the first stop on a crucial five-game road trip for the Warriors, who were entertaining hopes of making the playoffs for the first time in nine years. They came in three games behind Houston in the race for the final postseason berth in the Western Conference.
With stops in Boston, Philadelphia, New Jersey and Portland - all playoff-bound teams - it was imperative for Golden State to get the trip off to a good start. Instead, the Warriors (34-37) had one of their worst games of the season.
“Our next five games are very difficult and we don’t need to talk playoff basketball,” Warriors coach Eric Musselman said. “We need to talk about trying to win one game at a time and see what happens.”
Golden State allowed Cleveland to shoot 52 percent (51-of-98) while managing just 38 percent (36-of-94). It was outrebounded, 54-40, and surrendered over 120 points for the fifth time this season.
“It baffles me, especially when we know what’s at stake,” Warriors forward Antawn Jamison said. “On the (0-3) Chicago trip, we could have gained ground and we came out and played sluggishly and didn’t play with any sense of urgency. The same thing tonight.
“But these (next) 11 games should be the most important games of the season. You should give anything and everything toward these games. This should be your life. You’re getting paid to do it, this should be your life. We don’t know what’s going to happen next year with certain players or anything. So, we should savor this moment and really try to take advantage of it.”
Jamison scored 23 points and Gilbert Arenas added 21 for the Warriors, who have lost 12 straight visits to Cleveland since November 28, 1990. In Sunday’s home win over Washington, Jamison (37) and Arenas (41) combined for 78 points.
For the first 2 1/2 quarters, the Cavs would jump out to a lead before the Warriors would come back. But late in the third period, Davis helped put Cleveland in front for good.
After Chris Mihm’s basket gave the Cavs a 78-77 lead, Davis scored 10 points in a row. He had a pair of mid-range jumpers before drilling two 3-pointers for an 88-77 lead with 1:08 remaining.
Rookie Mike Dunleavy ended the burst with a free throw, but Mihm answered with a three-point play, giving Cleveland a 91-78 lead entering the final period.
“I thought, coming out (for the second half), we were still in a pretty good frame of mind and felt it was a one-point game,” Musselman said. “For whatever reason, they hit some big shots and we got our heads down.”
When Jamison threw in a hook at the 9:32 mark, he ended a basket drought of 6:39 for the Warriors. The hoop made it 91-80, but Golden State got no closer as Boozer scored nine points in the final 6 1/2 minutes.
“We were a step slow,” Musselman said. “They had more energy than us and that’s why they won the basketball game.”
Zydrunas Ilgauskas scored all 19 of his points in the first half and pulled down 13 rebounds for the Cavs. Darius Miles scored 12 points and Mihm, Jumaine Jones and rookie Smush Parker added nine each.
Jason Richardson scored 20 points and former Cav Bob Sura added 19 for the Warriors.
Ilgauskas scored 15 points in the first quarter as Cleveland raced to a 36-27 lead. It widened the advantage to 13 points before Golden State closed to 60-59 at halftime.