Curry sets Finals record on fire, smokes Cavaliers

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MARCIO JOSE SANCHEZ/ASSOCIATED PRESS

The climax of the story told in Sunday’s Game 2 of the NBA Finals wasn’t LeBron James scoring 50 or more. This was a story just as enthralling and compelling, alluding to moments of exhilaration in the past.

It’s a profound story about Stephen Curry, arguably the purest shooter in NBA history. A timeless tale about the most dangerous player in the league and almost certainly attracts attention nationwide. A moving narrative of an expert marksman whose 3-point shots were on full display at Oracle Arena.

The Warriors have the most dynamic backcourt duo with Klay Thompson and Curry, who, in the next few years, if he stays healthy, is set to pass Ray Allen with the most 3-pointers made. So after a daring escape with an overtime victory in Game 1, the Warriors this time responded with a great deal of urgency and didn’t appear to be vulnerable in James’ presence.

This is what you might call a shooting clinic by the sensational and crafty guard, whose perfectly deft jumpers ignited the crowd into a frenzy. The end result of Game 2 justified Curry’s Finals MVP candidacy and, now, suddenly Golden State has a convincing 2-0 lead over Cleveland in the NBA Finals for the third straight season.

It was yet another night that Curry played a huge role in determining Game 2’s outcome. The Warriors find ways to come out on top, especially in the second half when they usually rediscover their identity and open a double-digit lead. Mostly because they have a potent offense with a ridiculous upside.

Two down, two to go, the Warriors’ domination of the Cavaliers epitomized athleticism, poise and continuity. It turns out that Cleveland, even if it has the world’s best player, stands no chance against Golden State and its lethal scorer Curry.

He may not be anything like James, but when he catches fire, he can make shots anytime he wants, from anywhere he wants. It remains true that the Warriors have more than enough offensive weapons to cause mass destruction with Games 3 and 4 heading back to Cleveland.

It was truly another signature moment for Curry in the NBA Finals. It was another legendary occurrence that happens it seems every time he jacks up a miraculous shot. The Warriors got a marvelous performance out of their superstar and blasted the Cavaliers, 122-103, with a chance now to wrap it up and cradle a third championship trophy.

It began with a neck-to-neck first quarter, in a pivotal home game against the Cavs. After the first 12 minutes, the Warriors held just a four-point lead but they found a rhythm as the game went on and steamrolled the helpless Cavaliers for most of the second half. To close the quarter strong, Golden State shot over 60 percent.

Most of the time, the Warriors moved the ball well and got out in transition and got a ton of easy buckets. Their planned execution dismantled Cleveland’s defense, as they quickened the tempo of a star-powered offense and attacked the rim aggressively in the early going. The team’s first 10 points came in the paint.

At times in this game, it seemed as if James was becoming increasingly exasperated by his teammates. It was indeed obvious from his body language that  he was maddened with the lack of support from his teammates.

Battling with constant fatigue, James had 29 points, nine rebounds and 13 assists. But the Cavaliers were outplayed by the Warriors’ hot shooting and scoring efficiency. On Wednesday night in Cleveland at home, where James and his supporting cast have been effective all through the playoffs, playing in front of their raucous crowd might redeem them.

The Cleveland star carries with him the weight of being the world’s best player, yet Curry broke an NBA Finals record with nine 3-pointers. His shot-making eruption, particularly in the fourth quarter, scoring 16 of his 33 points, turned a somewhat close, competitive contest into a rout. With the shot clock winding down, he lost the ball, quickly retrieved it and let a desperation 29-footer heave fly softly into net.

The worrying development coming into this game for the Warriors was clearly the status of Thompson, who was listed as questionable on the injury report for a high sprain of his left ankle suffered Thursday night.

But he floated around the perimeter without the ball, sprinted through screens and bolted up and down the floor. He drained a pull-up 3-pointer in the third quarter, finishing with 20 points in 34 minutes.

At opening tip, the rollicking fans rose to their feet ecstatically as JaVale McGee rose to the occasion with a pair of crowd-pleasing dunks. The emotion and passion he played with made all the difference early and gave the Warriors a quick 4-0 lead. The 7-foot big man scored 12 points, making all six of his shots in his first career NBA Finals.

The play of Curry was certainly exceptional. He played with an edge. He played with the leadership and determination that best define a true champion. And together, the Warriors performed consistently at such a high level.

They got back to ball movement, handing out 28 assists, eight of them by Curry. They kept their opponents off the glass, snagging 41 rebounds to match the Cavaliers’ total. The Warriors have now pieced together two victories in a row and built momentum.

And, hey, their best player is on top of his game.

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