OAKLAND, Calif. — Stephen Curry dribbled every which way and beat LeBron James to the rim in a move reminiscent of his recent MVP magic, and the Golden State Warriors grabbed a 2-0 lead in the NBA Finals by downing the Cleveland Cavaliers 132-113 on Sunday night in coach Steve Kerr’s return to the sideline.
With their leader and reigning NBA Coach of the Year back on the bench after a six-week absence, Curry and Kevin Durant tag-teamed the Warriors within two victories of another championship. Curry had his first career postseason triple-double with 32 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds, while Durant contributed 33 points, 13 rebounds and six assists.
“He’s been around, the last couple weeks especially, giving us input and giving us what he’s got,” Curry said of Kerr. “But having him back on the bench means a lot. We love his presence. We love his voice. We’re a full group when he’s out here.”
The Warriors improved to 14-0 this postseason to keep alive a chance of becoming the first group to go unbeaten all the way to a title.
James was equally spectacular with his own triple-double of 29 points, 14 assists and 11 rebounds, but yet again didn’t get nearly enough help, despite Kevin Love’s 27 points and 19 from Kyrie Irving.
“I thought for the most part with the game plan that we had, we tried to execute it as close as possible,” James said. “Much more physical today than we were in Game 1. And we forced them to 20 turnovers, and they still beat us pretty good. So we got to be much better, too.”
Klay Thompson emerged from a postseason-long shooting funk to score 22 points with four three-pointers while playing more stellar defense and pulling down seven rebounds for the Warriors, who shot 18-for-43 from deep.
“We turned the ball over too much in the first half,” Durant said. “But the second half, I think we settled in, tried to play simple and defensively just tried to contest their shots.”
The series shifts to Cleveland for two games, with Game 3 on Wednesday.
Kerr returned to the bench to a rousing ovation, waving to the fans while back on the sideline for the first time since Game 2 of the first round against Portland on April 19. He was out because of pain issues stemming from complications after back surgery in 2015.
“I’m going to pull out the ‘Win one for the Gipper’ speech,” Kerr joked. “Maybe get a little teary-eyed. Implore them to win it for me because it’s not important for them to win it for themselves.”
Curry provided the coach more than a glimpse of his greatness from up close after Kerr had been watching games from the locker room while speaking to his players beforehand and at halftime.
He ran circles around James during one masterfully skillful sequence, then drove left through the paint for a right-handed layup over the star’s outstretched arm -during a signature moment in another rout.