By Frank Pingue
CLEVELAND (Reuters) - The Golden State Warriors answered the bell on Friday with a statement victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers that put them in position to cap their record-setting season with a second consecutive NBA title.
After being blown out in Game Three of the NBA Finals and relinquishing momentum to the Cavs, the Warriors responded in style with a potent offense and lockdown defense to earn a 3-1 stranglehold on the series and a chance to clinch it at home.
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"Obviously it's a big game, and one we needed to bounce back individually as a team to figure out how to get a win on the road and put ourselves in pretty good position," Warriors guard Stephen Curry told reporters.
"So, you know, we answered the bell, especially in the first quarter, controlling the pace of the game and not losing it like we did in Game Three."
After days of answering criticism for their uncharacteristic performance during Wednesday's loss, it was Curry, the league's Most Valuable Player, who led the way for the Warriors.
Curry, who averaged a mere 16 points over the first three games of the NBA Finals, lit up on Friday with a game-high 38 points on 11-for-25 shooting, including seven three-pointers.
Fellow Splash Brother Klay Thompson also rediscovered his touch and added 25 points for a Warriors team that looked much more like the squad that won a record 73 games during the NBA's 82-game regular season.
"This team has been through a lot together. This team has great character. No matter what we continue to battle," said Warriors forward Draymond Green.
"If we continue to battle and defend, eventually our offense will get going. That's the way we always approach things and it works out for us."
But even though the Warriors seemed to have found their mojo and are heading to the comforts of home, where they lost just three games all season, they are not getting ahead of themselves.
"We can't relax just because we're going home and we've got a two-game cushion," said Thompson. "That team's hungry over there, and they've got some all-time great players."
But for now, the Warriors sure seem unstoppable and the Cavaliers seem outmatched.
If Cleveland are to win a maiden NBA title this season, they will have to win three consecutive games over a Golden State team that has not lost three straight all season.
"This is a great opportunity for us, and we need to play with a sense of urgency and a sense of aggression like we did tonight," said Curry.
"So it will be a fun 48 hours to wrap our minds around the opportunity we have in front of us."
(Editing by Sudipto Ganguly)