Cleveland, OH (SportsNetwork.com) – Steve Kerr admitted he deceived reporters during Thursday morning’s shootaround when asked if he would start Andrew Bogut in Game 4.
“I lied, sorry,” the coach joked sarcastically following a resounding Golden State Warriors victory on Thursday night. “I don’t think they hand you the trophy based on morality. They give it to you if you win.”
That they do.
And Kerr’s change in the starting lineup helped Golden State regain the upper hand in the NBA Finals with two of the potentially final three games at rocking Oracle Arena.
Stephen Curry and Bogut’s replacement, Andre Iguodala, scored 22 points apiece and the Warriors routed the Cleveland Cavaliers 103-82 to tie the NBA Finals at two games apiece.
Kerr elected to insert his super-small lineup to start the game, starting Iguodala for the first time all season and beginning with the 6-foot-7 Draymond Green at center.
“We did it for pace, for floor spacing and to get the tempo going,” Kerr said.
The rookie coach called a timeout just over two minutes when the Cavaliers raced out to a 7-0 lead. Shortly thereafter the Warriors found the pace they wanted.
“We got the lead, it was our tempo and we were able to withstand the rebounding barrage,” Kerr said.
Iguodala not only continued to play stellar defense on LeBron James, who was limited to 20 points on 7-of-22 shooting, but he also posted a season-high point total. James is 18-of-54 from the floor when being guarded by Iguodala in the series.
“He’s been our best player through four games,” Kerr said of Iguodala.
Bogut, meanwhile, played less than three minutes.
Game 5 is slated for Sunday night in Oakland, where the Warriors have dropped just four games all season — including the postseason. One of those defeats, though, came against Cleveland in Game 2.
“We played a lot harder,” Kerr said. “I thought the first three games they were the more competitive team.”
James, averaging 41 points, 12 rebounds and 8.3 assists over the first three games in the series, was two assists shy of a triple-double. He pulled down 12 rebounds and didn’t score in the fourth quarter.
James played with a cut on the right side of his head after diving into a camera late in the first half following a hard foul along the baseline by Bogut.
“The camera cut me pretty bad,” he said.
Cleveland shot 33 percent (29-of-88) from the floor and made just 4-of-27 from beyond the arc.
Cavaliers coach David Blatt acknowledged after the game that his team was tired.
“Tonight was the third game in five games,” he said. “It seemed to have an impact on us.”
Timofey Mozgov led the Cavaliers with 28 points and 10 rebounds. Tristan Thompson added 12 points and 13 boards.
“Mozgov is huge, 7-foot-3. He probably outweighs me by 40 lbs,” Green said of having to guard Mozgov.
After the Cavaliers whittled a 15-point, third-quarter deficit to three late in the third, Golden State ripped off nine straight points to extend its margin back to double digits in the fourth and cruised from there.
Curry knocked down a step-back 3-pointer to jump start the spurt and stake the Warriors to a 76-70 advantage heading into the fourth. Golden State then took advantage when an exhausted James, who played nearly 34 of a possible 36 minutes through three periods, began the fourth on the bench.
“I ran through those 12 minutes in the third and I gassed out,” James said. “I was hoping that our team could buy me a couple minutes.”
Curry hit Green for a dunk with a look-ahead pass, drove the lane and dished a no-look helper to Klay Thompson for a layup and made a right wing runner to extend the margin back to 12.
Earlier, Golden State seized control of the contest with a 14-2 run in the first. An Iguodala triple capped the surge for a 31-22 margin.
The Warriors led 31-24 heading into the second and were up by as many as 15 in the second before taking a 54-42 advantage into the break.
Golden State’s 21-point victory is the largest of any road team in an NBA Finals when trailing in a series … J.R. Smith was 2-of-12 from the floor and 0-of-8 from 3, while Game 3 hero Matthew Dellavedova finished 3-of-14 and 2- of-9 from long distance for Cleveland … The Cavaliers held a 49-44 rebounding advantage … Golden State turned the ball over just seven times.