Slow-starting Warriors rue chance to deliver decisive blow

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Cavs back in Finals after Game 3 blowout

CLEVELAND, June 8 (Reuters) - A sluggish start to Game Three cost the Golden State Warriors a chance to move within a win of a second consecutive NBA title and could ultimately prove to be the turning point in their Finals series against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The Cavaliers raced out to a 9-0 lead in the opening minutes of Wednesday's encounter and went on to enjoy a comfortable 120-90 wire-to-wire win that cut their deficit in the best-of-seven series to 2-1.

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"They came out and played like a team with a sense of desperation, like their season was on the line. And we came out and played like everything was peaches and cream," Warriors forward Draymond Green told reporters.

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NBA Finals Game 3 2016
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Slow-starting Warriors rue chance to deliver decisive blow
Jun 8, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) celebrates after scoring against the Golden State Warriors during the first quarter in game three of the NBA Finals at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 8, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) shoots the ball over Cleveland Cavaliers center Tristan Thompson (13) during the first half in game three of the NBA Finals at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 8, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward Channing Frye (9) and forward LeBron James (23) smile from the bench during the final seconds of game three of the NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors at Quicken Loans Arena. The Cavaliers won 120-90. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 8, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward Richard Jefferson (24) celebrates with Cleveland Cavaliers guard Dahntay Jones (30) after defeating the Golden State Warriors 120-90 in game three of the NBA Finals at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 8, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving (2) shoots the ball against Golden State Warriors forward Harrison Barnes (40) and forward Draymond Green (23) in game three of the NBA Finals at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: Larry W. Smith/Pool Photo via USA TODAY Sports
Jun 8, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green (23) knocks the ball away from Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) during the third quarter in game three of the NBA Finals at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 8, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) reaches for the ball in front of Golden State Warriors center Andrew Bogut (12) during the third quarter in game three of the NBA Finals at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 8, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson (11) shoots the ball as Cleveland Cavaliers center Tristan Thompson (13) defends during the first half in game three of the NBA Finals at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 8, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) shoots the ball in front of Golden State Warriors center Andrew Bogut (12) during the first quarter in game three of the NBA Finals at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 8, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving (2) drives to the basket against Golden State Warriors center Festus Ezeli (31) and guard Shaun Livingston (34) during the first quarter in game three of the NBA Finals at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
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"We got bullied. We can't get bullied, so that falls on me."

Since no team in NBA history has ever recovered from an 3-0 series deficit to win in seven games, the Warriors were fully expecting a desperate Cavaliers team to come out hard at home in a game they had to win.

Golden State, who had their lowest scoring game of the NBA playoffs, essentially were unable to create much offense against a Cavs team that was vastly improved from the squad that were embarrassed during the first two games of the Finals in Oakland.

Much of that lack of offensive power was due to a misfiring Stephen Curry, who did not register a point until late in the second quarter when the league MVP hit a 10-foot bank shot.

BIG PUNCH

"They were playing aggressive defense and they came out with a big punch," Curry said.

"I didn't do anything about it or play my game, and for me to do what I need to do to help my team, I have to play a hundred times better than that, especially in the first quarter, to kind of control the game, and I didn't do it.

"We've been in situations like these before where you have a night that just doesn't go your way from start to finish, and for us, we've been able to bounce back pretty quick because we can turn the page and understand.

"Like I said, we're still in a good position."

After setting an NBA record with a 73 wins during the 82-game regular season, the Warriors will not allow themselves to get rattled by a single loss.

Warriors guard Klay Thompson, who was held to 10 points on 4-of-13 shooting, said his team's latest loss boiled down to a lack of energy.

"I think most of it's just energy, just matching that team's energy. They were hungrier than us tonight. There's no excuse for us. But that's all it is," Thompson said.

"I know we're not going to make every shot, obviously. We're going to have bad turnovers. But if we play with great energy and effort, we won't see another 30-point loss like this."

Game Four is in Cleveland on Friday.

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