Bench lift Warriors to first blood in Finals series

Fri Jun 3, 2016 1:51am EDT
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(Reuters) - The Golden State Warriors needed a big lift from their bench to down the Cleveland Cavaliers 104-89 in the NBA Finals opener in Oakland on Thursday.

With Warriors sharpshooters Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson going cold, Shaun Livingston, Andre Iguodala and Leandro Barbosa came through to spearhead a decisive 15-0 run at end of the third and beginning of the fourth quarter.

"I missed some shots and didn't get a rhythm, but the way that they defended, we'll be able to find some adjustments for Game Two. Not worried about that," said Curry, who settled for 11 points, two more than his backcourt team mate, Thompson.

"Just really proud of the way everybody contributed. You don't win championships without the entire squad coming in and making an impact on games."

In a rematch of last year's championship series, won by the Warriors in six games, LeBron James and the Cavaliers had taken the lead for the first time since the opening minute with a surge midway through the third quarter.

Livingston, who scored a playoff career-high 20 points, Iguodala (12) and Barbosa (11) picked up the slack for the defending champions, however, with the Warriors bench outscoring their Cleveland counterparts 45-10.

"This was a strange game for us," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. "We’re not use to having both Steph and Klay off like that with their shooting.

"But we’ve said all year that if we defend and take care of the ball we’re going to have somebody score enough points, whether it’s the starters or the bench.

"I thought we played great defense. We had nine turnovers total and that allowed us to control the game, and our bench obviously gave us a huge lift."   Continued...

Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving (2) shoots the ball against Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) during the third quarter in game one of the NBA Finals at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports