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Wrap-Up -- When facing the reigning World Champs, it’s entirely possible to play a good game and still be on the short end of the final score.
That was the case for the Wine & Gold on Wednesday night – tangling with Golden State for the better part of four quarters before succumbing to the Warriors’ withering attack and dropping the hard-fought, 129-105, decision at The Q.
Everything was going Cleveland’s way before intermission – capping a 39-point second quarter on Rodney Hood’s desperation jumper that found the bottom of the net at the buzzer, giving the Cavaliers a six-point edge at the break.
The Cavs stayed with the Warriors through much of the third before things began slipping away towards the end of the period.
In the fourth, Golden State opened up a double-digit lead less than five minutes into the quarter and pulled away down the stretch to seal the deal – outscoring Cleveland by 30, 71-41, over the game’s final 24 minutes.
To the earlier point about the best sometimes not being enough against the Champs, rookie Collin Sexton had a rock-solid outing – finishing with 21 points – and his score was literally doubled-by the player he was guarding, Stephen Curry.
On the night, the former two-time MVP went off for 42 points, notching 25 of those before intermission – going 11-for-20 from the floor, including 9-of-14 from beyond the arc and 11-of-12 from the stripe.
The combination of Curry and Kevin Durant – who finished one assist shy of a triple-double with 25 points, 10 boards and a game-high nine assists – was simply too much for the young Cavaliers on Wednesday night.
Sexton’s 21 points paced the Wine & Gold – with the Young Bull going 7-for-14 from the floor, including 3-of-3 from beyond the arc and 4-of-5 from the stripe, adding three assists and a pair of boards in the loss.
Collin Sexton drops a team-high 21 points on Wednesday.
Tristan Thompson, the only rotational veteran from the four straight Finals meetings between these two franchises, continued his monster season – doubling-up once again with 14 points and a game-high 19 rebounds, going 6-of-8 from the field to go with three assists.
Jordan Clarkson, who’s now tallied double-figures in 22 of Cleveland’s first 24 games, chipped in with 17 points off the bench – going 7-for-17 from the floor to go with three boards and two assists in 30 minutes of work.
Cedi Osman finished with 16 points on 6-for-12 shooting, adding three boards and a pair of steals while trying to check Durant for most of the night. Rodney Hood scored nine of his 15 points in the first two minutes of the game and went 6-for-16 from the floor overall.
Larry Nance Jr. rounded out the Cavaliers in double-figures with 11 points on a perfect 4-for-4 shooting, adding eight boards, a pair of assists, a block and a steal.
The Wine & Gold were outstanding from beyond the arc in the first half, canning 10 triples before the break. But the Warriors held them to just 1-for-12 from deep in the second stanza while going 11-of-19 from long-range and 10-of-10 from the stripe themselves.
Turning Point -- The Warriors hinted that they were about to blow things open late in the third quarter and got to work on that task midway through the fourth.
Even with Golden State ending the third on an 11-4 run, the Cavaliers were still in it to start the fourth. But Jonas Jerebko scored on finger-roll to put the Warriors up double-figures – 107-97 – and that opened the flood gates.
The Warriors would proceed to go on a 19-5 run from there, putting the game on ice as both teams emptied their benches with just over three minutes to play in regulation.
By the Numbers – 14.2, 13.6, .559 … Tristan Thompson’s scoring and rebounding averages in 14 games dating back to November 5 – with 12 double-doubles in the mix.
Quotable – Coach Larry Drew, on Collin Sexton competing with former MVP Stephen Curry …
"One thing about Collin is that he’s not going to back down. He’s a fierce competitor and he’ll accept any challenge. Tonight, I thought he did a good job against a pretty good guard in Curry. Curry scored 42, but Collin kept competing. The message that I was hearing from him in the huddles was, ‘Hey guys, come on let’s keep playing hard, let’s keep going at it’ and that’s a sign of growth."
Up Next -- After falling to the Warriors on Wednesday night, the Wine & Gold’s mini-homestand rolls on, with a weekend back-to-back on tap – beginning with Friday’s meeting against the Kings and followed by a visit from Bradley Beal and the Wizards on Saturday. Cleveland makes their first trip to Milwaukee this season, squaring off against the Greek Freak and Co. on Monday night before returning for another three-game homestand – with the Knicks, Bucks and Sixers all making their first visits to The Q.