Cavs make it four straight wins against Warriors
James had 37 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds and the Cleveland Cavaliers ran their winning streak against Golden State to four with a 117-114 victory Monday night.
“It’s a point in my game I worked on a lot this offseason and it’s something I know I can go to throughout the game,” James said of backing down his defender. “Tonight was a perfect time for it.”
After a victory at Portland on Sunday, the Cavaliers won playing on consecutive nights for the sixth time in 11 tries this season but had to hold off a late rally by the Warriors in this one.
“That was normal LeBron, nothing special, nothing spectacular,” Ellis said.
Stephen Curry’s(notes) layup for Golden State moments later again made it a three-point game and James missed a 3 on the other end with 5.3 seconds left. Curry’s desperation 3 from 34 feet at the buzzer was short.
“It was like the last six minutes the clock just never ran for some odd reason,” James said. “It was the slowest six minutes I’ve ever been a part of. They kept making shots but we were able to make one stop. We just needed one stop and we were able to get that.”
Ellis, trying to make a push for the Warriors’ first All-Star nod since Latrell Sprewell in 1997, scored 30 points to go with five assists and five steals, but missed 11 straight shots during a stretch spanning the second and third quarters. Corey Maggette(notes) added 32 points and seven rebounds for Golden State, which was denied its first three-game winning streak of the season.
The Warriors were inconsistent playing in front of potential future owner and Oracle Corp. CEO Larry Ellison, who sat courtside in the building boasting his company’s name. Ellison has expressed interest in buying an NBA franchise and there’s talk he could be the owner-in-waiting if current top man Chris Cohan eventually decides to sell.
Ellison’s party was flanked by at least two arena security personnel. One fan in the upper area of the lower level held a sign reading, “Dear Larry Ellison, please buy this team. Thanks, the Warriors fans.”
James shot 12 for 23 a night after he went 13 of 19 with 41 points in a 106-94 win at Portland and also had 10 rebounds and eight assists. For the second straight game, he wore one blue shoe and one orange shoe to go with Cleveland’s throwback jerseys.
“He said he wanted the ball in the post. He demanded the ball in the post. He went to the post and got it done,” Cleveland coach Mike Brown said. “He’s capable of doing that every game. That’s how talented he is. That’s how strong and athletic he is and he’s a willing passer.”
Until the final minute, the closest the Warriors got in the fourth quarter was six points at 98-92 with 8:39 to play.
O’Neal threw down a powerful dunk with 6:22 left in the third quarter and tiny Curry fouled him from behind, then O’Neal stared down Curry for several moments as the teams headed into a timeout.
“That wasn’t a smart foul. I kind of waited for him because I knew it would be on the highlights,” O’Neal said.
After the break, O’Neal gave Curry another look just before shooting the ensuing free throw, which he bricked.
Curry won’t be trying that again.
“That was a dumb play for me to go try to knock him down,” Curry said. “He’s probably the last guy in the NBA you do that to.”
Cleveland opened the game by hitting five of its first six shots, getting two quick baskets by Shaq.
Brown is being strategic about how much he plays O’Neal to make sure the 37-year-old big man is fresh come playoff time. He was averaging 22.3 minutes over his previous five outings.
“He’s a little older now,” Brown said. “The more we can save his legs in the regular season, the better. He’s highly effective for us.”
NOTES: Golden State will be without injured F Anthony Randolph(notes) for perhaps two months or longer with an injured left ankle. The Warriors added some depth by signing G/F Cartier Martin(notes) to a 10-day contract Sunday, calling him up from the Development League.