Basketball

Curry's 3-point dazzlers lift Warriors halfway to NBA title

Tuesday, June 05, 2018

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OAKLAND, United States (AFP) — Golden State sharpshooter Stephen Curry delivered a performance for the ages Sunday with an NBA Finals record nine three-pointers, powering the defending champions Warriors over LeBron James and Cleveland Cavaliers.

Curry's 33 points on 11-of-26 shooting, including 9-of-17 from beyond the arc, led Golden State to a 122-103 triumph and a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven finals that continue tomorrow in Cleveland.

Teams that win the first two games have won the NBA title 88 per cent of the time, a good omen for a Warriors club seeking a third crown in four seasons.

Curry, who already owns NBA three-pointer records for a season and consecutive games among others, delivered deflating blows time and again to the Cavaliers.

The 30-year-old maestro scored 16 points in the fourth quarter, answering a LeBron James three-pointer with back-to-back threes for a 96-83 lead.

“It was big,” Curry said. “Any of those moments when you can come down and answer and keep the momentum on our side, it's big.”

Curry added an epic desperation heave as the shot clock expired, a corner three-pointer while being fouled, and the record-setter with 3:30 minutes remaining from the left wing.

Curry broke the old mark of eight three-pointers in a finals game set by Boston's Ray Allen in 2010.

“That's a pretty cool deal to accomplish, knowing who has held the record for eight years,” Curry said.

“But at the end of the day, it's all about trying to get a win and doing whatever you can to make that happen. If we focus on that, good things happen individually all across the board.

“I never woke up and was like, 'All right, let's go get nine threes and get the record.' It was more so about playing the game the right way, having good intentions out there on the court and good things happen.”

The three-pointer with the most acclaim came after he fumbled the ball, grabbed it, stepped back with the shot clock about to expire and fired in a miracle with Cleveland's Kevin Love defending.

“Tough shot taker, tough shot maker,” said Warriors forward Draymond Green. “The one where he was falling away was like, 'Oh, man, he's really got it going.' But we've seen this before where he completely takes the game over with his scoring ability, and he did that tonight.”

Coming after a James dunk, Curry's 30-foot stunner gave the Warriors a 103-89 edge. Cleveland never got within 12 again.

“I was trying to get some space,” Curry said. “I thought I had a lay-up at first, and I fumbled the ball and tried to see where the defence was. And Kevin Love was right on me. I actually lost the dribble for a hot second, and the only way to get a shot was to keep going back.”

Love could only watch in amazement.

“No matter where you are on the floor, especially past half court on their side, he always has a chance to make a miraculous shot,” Love said.

“I felt like it was well contested. We played 23 1/2 good seconds of defence, and he turned around and hit a moon ball.”

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