Warriors 103, Cavaliers 100
Richardson scored Golden State’s final 10 points and the Warriors defeated Cleveland 103-100 Saturday night in what Cavaliers coach Paul Silas called a must-win game to stay in playoff contention.
“Oh yeah, I want the ball in my hands,” Richardson said. “I’ve been asking, saying it for the longest of times, and tonight proved that. I had to be the go-to guy in the fourth quarter. I can make plays.”
Richardson scored a season-high 35 points, topping James’ 34.
A week after James scored 41 in a desperate comeback win, he failed to get an open look with time running out.
The loss dropped Cleveland three games behind idle Boston for the eighth playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The Cavaliers have six games left.
“If we run the table we’ve got a shot,” Carlos Boozer said. “We had a seven game streak before so we can do it.”
The Cavaliers, who have lost four straight and eight of nine, were outplayed the entire game, but nearly won anyway.
Down 97-92 with 1:45 left, James hit a deep 3 after a Warriors turnover. Richardson responded with a 15-footer, then held his finger to his lips as if he was silencing the screaming crowd.
Ira Newble’s three-point play made it 99-98 with 47 seconds left. Richardson hit two free throws, then followed James’ drive with another pair of free throws.
With 16 seconds left, Kedrick Brown inbounded to James, who wanted go for a quick two-pointer. But James temporarily lost possession of the ball, then was double-teamed. He passed to Zydrunas Ilgauskas, who missed a 3-pointer from the top of the arc to end it.
“We have won so many games in practice by me kicking it over to ‘Z.’ I knew he was wide open,” James said.
James took over against New Jersey last Saturday and won in the final seconds to keep Cleveland’s playoff hopes alive. He couldn’t duplicate the effort against Golden State.
“Sometimes he takes a little too much on his shoulders, but it is a learning experience,” Silas said. “He has to understand that nobody can do it by themselves.”
“It’s incredible, it really is,” Warriors coach Eric Musselman said. “It’s been a difficult season with injuries, but I can’t say enough about the character of the team.”
Meanwhile, the Cavaliers have nearly fallen out of the playoff hunt without point guard Jeff McInnis. He will return from the injured list Tuesday and start against Toronto.
Boozer scored 26 points and 13 rebounds. Ilgauskas added 17 despite getting into foul trouble.
James tied it twice with back-to-back jumpers in the third quarter, but the Cavaliers could not claim the lead. James had 10 assists and eight rebounds.
The Cavaliers’ last lead was 20-19 late in the first quarter. Golden State went on an 11-2 run behind five points from Murphy to end the first period with a 29-22 lead.
Murphy scored 14 points in the first half and Dunleavy 18, shooting 7-for-9.
The Warriors led by as many as 15 in the second quarter before theCavaliers’ 10-3 run made it 56-48 at halftime.
The Warriors had lost 12 straight at Cleveland. Their last win was Nov. 28, 1990. … Dampier will miss the rest of the season with a sprained left ankle. … The Warriors signed guard J.R. Bremer before Saturday’s game. He did not play. Bremer was released by the Cavaliers on March 3. … The Cavaliershad their 14th sellout, the third most in team history.