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Unsung heroes guide Warriors’ Christmas sleigh

Draymond Green made sure it was a blue Christmas for the Cleveland Cavaliers, as the Golden State Warriors came out on top in the long-anticipated NBA Finals rematch 89-83.

Green finished the game with 22 points, 15 rebounds, seven assists and two blocks and willed the Warriors (28-1) to a rock fight of a game.

This story has been updated with quotes and post-game material from the Warriors locker room at Oracle Arena.

Green’s full game was on display as he also held counterpart Kevin Love to 10 points on 5-of-16 shooting.

In the wake of a hobbled Steph Curry — whose injured calf forced him to the locker room early in the second quarter — it was the heartbeat of the team that took over. Curry finished with 19 points, seven assists and just one 3-pointer, but he was clearly not 100 percent.

Interim head coach Luke Walton said there are concerns about his star’s health:

“Obviously any injury Steph has is very concerning. But he said he felt good, if he reported anything in the second half he was going to be done for the night and he never did. … We have no problem resting Steph if he needs the time to heal up.”

The reigning MVP was not even close to his usual self, and the Warriors offense stagnated, scoring a season-low 89 points, well below their 115.5 average.

With Kyrie Irving on a minutes cap and Love struggling, the game everyone anticipated instead reverted back to a Finals copy, a grind.

It was the defense that kept Golden State in the game, as they came out and held Cleveland (19-8) to 28 percent shooting in the first quarter and 18 percent on threes, a percentage that would not improve as Cleveland finished just 31 percent from the field and 16 percent on threes.

Curry, who shot just 6-15 himself, acknowledged that it’s good to get a win like this:

“We obviously want to play better offensively, but whether it’s their style or not, it’s just that we got stops, we grinded it out. For 48 minutes we pretty much made it difficult on them to get any clean looks.”

The slow pace has given the Warriors trouble recently, as both the Bucks and Cavs — both in bottom seven in possessions per game — have given the Warriors problems.

Green said he hasn’t been happy with the team’s performance recently:

“I don’t think we played well (in the last four games) even tonight. A part of it pisses me off but a part of it makes me very happy. Because what are we? 28-1, you’re 28-1 and you’re not near playing well, that’s exciting because we know we’ll reach that point and when we do I think that’s trouble.”

The unsung heroes guided the Warriors’ sleigh Christmas Day, as Brandon Rush played stellar one-on-one defense against LeBron, which let his teammates clog the middle and force the Cavs roleplayers to launch from the outside.

Draymond was more than happy to talk about his teammate’s success:

“Amazing, Brandon has been shooting the lights out the ball since he’s been in the starting lineup. He struggle a little bit today shooting the ball, but he had a mountain of an assignment and he was phenomenal with that assignment. I think a lot of times people forget that Brandon was a hell of a defender and a hell of a shooter and a hell of a player. And he showed that tonight, ‘I still got it on the defensive end.’”

Shaun Livingston was forced into a bigger role as the Warriors had to battle both Curry’s injury as well as that of backup guard Leandro Barbosa, who suffered a shoulder strain in the second quarter and couldn’t return.

The veteran PG did his best Steph Curry impression, pouring in 16 points while only missing one shot, finishing 8-for-9 from the field.

Walton was quick to praise Livingston and Andre Iguodala:

“Anytime I’m asked about them they’re such a huge part of our success, whether they’re making shots, they’re just out on the floor being intelligent basketball players, guarding multiple positions and playmaking. They just understand the game and know how to win.”

The Warriors have a couple of days to get rested before they take on the Sacramento Kings Monday at Oracle.


Harrison Barnes missed his 12th-straight game with his sprained ankle that was injured on Nov. 27 vs. the Suns. … Curry came into the game the leading scorer in the NBA averaging 31.2 points per game. … The Warriors have now won 32 straight games at Oracle dating back to last year, the last team to win 31 straight at home was the 96-97 Chicago Bulls.

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