OAKLAND (CBS / AP) — David Lee played through an illness to finish with 22 points, 14 rebounds and six assists, and the Golden State Warriors outlasted the undermanned Cleveland Cavaliers 106-96 on Wednesday night.
Stephen Curry scored 21 points to go with six assists, and reserve Carl Landry added 19 points and nine rebounds to help the Warriors take a 17-point lead in the second quarter, go down a basket in the third and cruise to victory in the fourth.
Kyrie Irving had 28 points and seven assists, and Daniel Gibson chipped in 12 points for the Cavaliers, who played without two of their top big men. First-round pick Tyler Zeller was sent back to Cleveland for further concussion tests and Anderson Varejao sat out with soreness in his bruised right knee.
The Warriors improved to 3-2, a winning record that doesn’t mean much to most NBA teams. For fervent – and often frustrated – fans in the basketball-booming Bay Area, though, the small sample size is enough to provide a glimmer of hope for a franchise that has missed the playoffs 17 of the last 18 seasons.
With Cleveland (2-3) depleted on the inside, the Warriors wasted no time turning the game into a rout. They just struggled, at first, to keep Cleveland at a distance.
The Cavs collapsed on the inside and allowed Golden State’s shooters to roam free. Curry and Klay Thompson made a flurry of jumpers to give the Warriors a 37-21 lead after the first quarter.
Curry alone scored 15 in the period to help Golden State pile up more points than it had in any quarter in the previous four games this season. The Warriors went ahead by 17 early in the second quarter.
The Cavs surged back in a hurry, closing within five later in the second during a spurt highlighted by an over-the-backboard alley-oop from Gibson to Tristan Thompson that even stirred the home fans. In the third quarter, Alonzo Gee started a three-point play with a driving layup over Harrison Barnes, and Dion Waiters followed with a long jumper to put Cleveland ahead 69-67.
Jarrett Jack, who also sat out the Warriors’ morning practice because of an illness, came through during Golden State’s final push. He converted a three-point play over Samardo Samuels – who started in Varejao’s place – and threw a long outlet pass ahead to Richard Jefferson for an easy dunk.
Lee helped Golden State outrebound Samuels, Jon Leuer and what was left of Cleveland’s frontcourt 44-39 to help Golden State close the third quarter on an 18-5 run, going ahead by 11 and essentially putting the game out of reach.
Keeping it close might’ve been the one bit of good news for the Cavs all day.
Zeller returned to Cleveland for further evaluation after sustaining a concussion and broken cheekbone when Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan elbowed him in the face in the Cavs’ 108-101 win Monday night. In that same game, Varejao bruised his right knee in the first quarter.
Cavs coach Byron Scott said it’s unclear when either will return.
NOTES: New Warriors C Andrew Bogut, still playing through soreness in his surgically repaired left ankle, was held scoreless in 17 minutes of play. He had five points and three rebounds. … Golden State has won four straight against Cleveland. … San Francisco Giants slugger and World Series MVP Pablo Sandoval attended the game. …. Cavaliers swingman C.J. Miles also played through an illness.