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The Cavaliers came out with good energy on Sunday night in San Francisco. But there was no matching the electricity pulsating through the gym for the Warriors, who celebrated the return of five-time All-Star Klay Thompson after a 31-month absence.
The sold-out Chase Center crowd erupted when Thompson connected on his first shot of the night – a floater to open the scoring for Golden State – and remained at a playoff pitch for the rest of the game, as the Warriors weathered a late Cavaliers rally to take the 96-82 decision.
Thompson, who hasn’t played since Game 6 of the 2019 Finals against Toronto, battled his way through both the ACL injury that initially sidelined him, and a ruptured Achilles suffered last November before getting the start on Sunday. He finished with 17 points overall, going 7-for-18 from the floor, including 3-of-8 from long-range.
The Warriors led through most of the first half, but despite the electric atmosphere, couldn’t pull away from the Cavs. That changed in the third quarter, when they ran out to a 24-point lead late the in the period. But Cleveland chipped away to get within striking distance in the fourth before running out of steam down the stretch.
Defensively, the Wine & Gold were rock-solid on Sunday – holding the Warriors to 40 percent shooting and just 17 points in the fourth quarter. Unfortunately, Golden State – the league’s top defensive squad – was just as good, holding Cleveland to 43 percent shooting and 14 points in the third.
The Cavs also were uncharacteristically beat up on the offensive glass, 22-8, and committed 19 turnovers that led to 25 Golden State points. Excluding Rajon Rondo, Cleveland’s three other reserves were a combined 3-of-17 from the floor.
Lamar Stevens led the Cavaliers with a career-best 17 points, going 8-of-11 from the floor, adding four boards and a pair of steals in his third straight start.
Rondo, in just his second appearance with Cleveland, notched double-figure scoring in his second straight outing after not doing so in his previous 18 appearances this season with L.A. – finishing with 15 points on 6-of-10 shooting, including all three triples he attempted in the fourth quarter.
Jarrett Allen chipped in with 12 points on 5-of-7 shooting, adding seven boards and a pair of blocks and Evan Mobley added 11 points on 5-of-12 shooting to go with six boards, a pair of steals and a block.
Steph Curry led both teams with 28 points and Kevon Looney grabbed a game-high 18 boards for Golden State – which extended its win streak to 10 straight over the Wine and Gold with Sunday’s win.
Miss any of the action? Find all the highlights and photos in the Game Tracker.
On the baseline drive, Evan Mobley gets past and around his defender to put down a two-handed jam in the second quarter.
The Warriors looked to blow things open in the third quarter; the Cavaliers made sure they didn’t in the fourth.
Cleveland trailed by just five at the break, but Golden State went on a 28-9 surge from there – opening up a 24-point edge with 2:30 to play in the period.
But the Cavs would score the final five points of the third and open the final period with a 15-6 run – getting to within 10 midway through the quarter and staying within striking distance the rest of the way.
By the Numbers - 102.4, 16, 8 … points per game that the Cavaliers allow as a defensive this year – the best mark in the Eastern Conference – along with times they’ve held a team under 100 points and under 25 percent from long-distance, both of which they did on Sunday night.
"There were times I felt we were overtaken by the moment as a team. We were uncharacteristic of ourselves tonight in certain moments. When you give up close to 20 offensive rebounds, turn it over 20 times, to me that means you're playing timid and not being aggressive and forceful like we typically are. It was a great learning experience for us. Our message to our guys is we’re good enough, so we’re going to find ourselves in games like this and we have to be prepared to be more forceful and more determined."
Enjoy the best broadcast calls of the night from Cavaliers Radio Network's Tim Alcorn and Rafa Hernandez-Brito from Power 89.1.
After seeing their record on the trip evened on Sunday night in San Francisco, the Wine & Gold make the short trip to Sacramento for the second half of the back-to-back against De’Aaron Fox and the Kings.
On Wednesday night, the Cavs head to Salt Lake City for a midweek matchup with the Jazz before wrapping up the roadie with a weekend back-to-back – traveling to San Antonio for a Friday night meeting with the Spurs before wrapping up the sojourn on Saturday night in Oklahoma City.
The Cavs go west of the Mississippi just once more the rest of the way – making an early-February stop in Houston.