Golden State sends Cavs to ninth straight loss
OAKLAND – Golden State coach Keith Smart had some concerns about his team’s ability to follow up an encouraging road trip when the Warriors returned home to face the lowly Cleveland Cavaliers.
He shouldn’t have worried.
Playing with a healthy roster for one of the few times this season, the Warriors had no problems against the LeBron-less Cavs, getting 32 points from Monta Ellis in a 116-98 win on Friday night.
“I don’t want to beat a dead horse but it’s good when we’ve got a full roster,” said David Lee, who had 22 points and 14 rebounds. “You got guys that can support you. It’s not like, ‘Hey Monta, David and Stef (Curry), you guys are playing 48 minutes so pace yourselves.’ You can go out there and play all out.”
That was evident in Ellis’ stat line.
The NBA’s leader in minutes played per game in 2009, Ellis was able to take frequent breathers against the Cavs while recording his fourth double-double of the season.
Ellis led the Warriors in scoring but was equally effective dishing off, something coach Keith Smart has been pressing his veteran guard to do more of in recent weeks.
Ellis had 10 assists, the fourth time this season he’s reached double digits in that category. That’s encouraging news for the Warriors (15-21), who ended a four-game home losing streak to the Cavs.
“We could have put them away early but it didn’t happen,” Smart said. “But we held our composure … and I thought we did a good job of playing hard enough to make the next play. (We) kept up the game plan of what we wanted to do, to move the ball and help a teammate.”
Playing their first home game following a 2-3 road trip, the Warriors had little trouble against the NBA’s worst team. Golden State made 14 3-pointers led by as much as 21 and had five players reach double figures.
Cleveland, which dropped its ninth straight, had no answer. The Cavs lost for the 19th time in 20 games while falling 20 games under .500.
“Some of our careless mistakes are killing us and some of our inexperience and youth are hurting us, just like at times it’s helping us,” Cavs coach Byron Scott said. “Our margin for error is so, so slim that we can’t afford to give a team like this another 17 chances to score.”
It was a rough day all around for Cleveland (8-28).
Before the game the Cavs learned that reserve forward Leon Powe would be out at least six weeks after undergoing surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee. Powe was injured in Wednesday’s loss to Toronto but the full extent wasn’t revealed until he had an MRI test early Friday.
The hard-luck Cavs were also without leading rebounder Anderson Varejao, who was still sore after spraining his left ankle late in practice Thursday.
That added to Cleveland’s already lengthy list of injured players that includes Daniel Gibson (ankle), Joey Graham (quad) and Anthony Parker (back).
“All you can do sometimes is shake your head when things like this keep cropping up,” Scott said before the game. “It’s the opportunity for these young guys to show us what they can do.”
Antawn Jamison had 21 points and five rebounds for the Cavaliers, who lost at Oracle Arena for the first time in more than two years.
Cleveland couldn’t overcome its health issues and lost in Oakland for the first time since Nov. 4, 2007.
The Warriors got a scare of their own midway through the third quarter when Curry went down with a bruised left hip after a flagrant foul by Mo Williams. Curry was slammed to the court on his stomach and lay prone for several anxious moments as Golden State head athletic trainer Tom Abdenour rushed to his side.
Curry, who finished with 15 points and four assists, was eventually helped to his feet but stayed in the game and made both free throws to make it 82-63 then went to the Warriors bench. He returned with just over 7 minutes left to play and Golden State up 97-83 but left less than two minutes later.
“It tightened up when I went back on the floor,” Curry said. “For tomorrow, we’ll see how it responds.”
The Warriors led 65-49 at halftime and cruised home after that. The Cavs made one brief run, pulling within 91-81 early in the fourth quarter on a Sessions layup. Sessions then missed a chance to close the gap more when his layup attempt was blocked by Golden State’s Vladimir Radmanovic.
Radmanovic finished with 13 points and Dorell Wright added 20 for the Warriors.
Cleveland lost despite getting a strong night off the bench from J.J. Hickson and Ramon Sessions. Hickson had 17 points and nine rebounds while Sessions added 13 points and five assists.
Manny Harris had season-highs of 16 points and 10 rebounds for the Cavs while Williams added 16 points and seven assists.
Notes: Smart previously was a head coach in Cleveland during the 2002-03 season, albeit on an interim basis. Smart coached the Cavs to a 9-31 mark in 40 games after replacing John Lucas midway through the year. … Hue Jackson, rumored to be the leading candidate to be the next head coach of the Oakland Raiders, sat courtside along with former Raider safety Eddie Anderson. The duo sat in seats owned by Mark Davis, son of Raiders owner Al Davis. … Cavs Hall of Fame radio announcer Joe Tait underwent double bypass surgery and an aortic valve replacement in Cleveland. … Golden State C Andris Biedrins had two points and eight rebounds in his second appearance after sitting out nine games with a sprained left ankle. … The Warriors are 7-2 when holding opponents under 100 points.