OAKLAND, Calif. (TNS) — George Hill called Game 1 of the NBA Finals the worst loss of his career, and LeBron James said it was one of his worst. J.R. Smith had two days to ponder his end-of-regulation gaffe.
The Cavaliers also knew they were wronged by a reversed call that went the Golden State Warriors' way in Thursday's overtime opener and were determined to channel their frustrations into a better effort in Game 2.
But the Cavs couldn't turn their best intentions into energy. Their defense couldn't shut down the Warriors stars, or their role players like Shaun Livingston and JaVale McGee. James seemed to be feeling the aftereffects of his career playoff-high 51 points, especially during a lethargic second quarter.
The Cavs showed signs of life as Kevin Love pitched in 13 points in the third quarter, cutting a 15-point second-quarter deficit to 10 going into the final quarter. But they maintained their high level of play only for short bursts as the Warriors pulled away for a 122-103 victory Sunday night at Oracle Arena.
Improving to 3-1 in Finals Game 2s since 2015, the Warriors took a 2-0 lead as the series shifts to Cleveland for Games 3 and 4 Wednesday and Friday. The defending champion Warriors have beaten the Cavs for the title in two of the last three years.
James played 44 minutes after going nearly 48 in Game 1 and totaled 29 points with nine rebounds and 13 assists before departing with 4:09 to play. James made 10-of-20 field goals, including 2-of-4 on 3s, and 7-of-9 from the line, but committed five of the Cavs' 11 turnovers.
With a 3-pointer over Kevin Durant in the third quarter, James passed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1,317) for the second-most points in Finals history.
Love added 22 points and 10 rebounds, Hill contributed 15 points and three assists and Tristan Thompson added 11 points and five rebounds. But the Cavs' top two shooting guards, Smith and Kyle Korver, combined for six points. Smith scored five points in 31 minutes, making 2-of-9 shots, including 1-of-4 on 3s, and Korver made only a technical free throw and went 0-for-3 from the field in 17 minutes.
Warriors four-time All-Star guard Klay Thompson scored 20 points, playing 33 minutes on what is reportedly a high left ankle sprain suffered on a steal attempt by Smith in the first quarter of Game 1. The gritty Thompson made 8-of-13 field goals, including 3-of-8 from long range.
Stephen Curry led the Warriors with 33 points, going 9-of-17 beyond the arc, with seven rebounds and eight assists, and Durant scored 26 points with nine rebounds and seven assists.
But the Cavs were also hurt by McGee, who made his first career Finals start, and Livingston. McGee made all six of his shots for 12 points, and Livingston scored 10, making all five of his attempts.
Although the Cavs were more competitive in the third quarter, they were doomed by a second quarter in which the Warriors outscored them 27-18.
In that quarter, the Cavs went 5:24 without a field goal to aid an 11-4 Warriors run. Livingston, an ex-Cav, and McGee scored four points apiece during that surge and Curry added a 3-pointer.
James did not look like himself in the second quarter, when he scored five points on 2-of-7 shooting with three rebounds and three assists. He got little help from Love, who made 2-of-10 shots in the first two quarters, including 0-of-2 from long range.
James and Love combined to shoot 7-of-21 in the first half, while the McGee and Livingston were 8-for-8.
Smith, who dribbled out the clock in regulation after rebounding Hill's missed free throw with 4.7 seconds left in Game 1, received a standing ovation from the Warriors crowd during pregame introductions. Heartily booed was Tristan Thompson, who got into an altercation with Draymond Green with 2.6 seconds in overtime and was fined $25,000 by the league. When Smith went to the free-throw line in the first quarter, chants of "MVP" broke out.
The Warriors started McGee at center over Kevon Looney after the 7-foot McGee went 2-for-3 from the field and gave the Cavs problems during his six-minute stint in Game 1. McGee played just 3:04 in the seven-game series against the Rockets in the West finals.
It was McGee's seventh start of the 2018 playoffs. Coming in, the Warriors lineup of Curry, Durant, Thompson, Green and McGee had played together just 14 minutes in this postseason, according to ESPN Stats & Info.
The Warriors were still without swingman Andre Iguodala, who missed his sixth consecutive playoff game with a left lateral leg contusion/bone bruise.
Conspiracy theorists still stewing over the Durant charge that was reversed to a blocking foul on James in Game 1, which allowed the Warriors to tie it with 36.4 seconds left, got more ammunition. In the first quarter, Curry fired up an air ball but the Warriors retained possession. It was supposedly tipped by Jordan Clarkson, but he pulled back to avoid hitting it as it sailed off target.
With 3:54 to go in the third quarter, James caught a long outlet pass from Love in traffic and was undercut by Curry as he fell out of bounds and turned it over. James complained to the officials as Cavs coach Tyronn Lue picked up a rare technical.