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Warriors cool off red-hot Celtics in NBA Finals rematch

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LOS ANGELES: The Golden State Warriors sent a strong signal on Saturday that they won’t give up their NBA crown without a fight, thumping the Boston Celtics 123-107 in an NBA Finals rematch.


While the Warriors have struggled to build momentum in their title defence this season, the Celtics have streaked to the best record in the league.


But Golden State, with 34 points from Klay Thompson and 32 from Stephen Curry, were more than a match for a Celtics team that came into San Francisco riding a three-game winning streak.


“We just played these guys in the NBA Finals — you want to send a message,” said Golden State forward Draymond Green, who acknowledged the Warriors were also eager to end a two-game slide.


Thompson got going early, scoring 24 points in the first half.


Curry, who connected on 12 of 21 shots from the field and had six of the Warriors’ 13 three-pointers, said defence keyed the win.


“From the start we tried to defend without fouling, just make it tough for them,” Curry said.


Jaylen Brown scored 31 points and pulled down nine rebounds for Boston. Jayson Tatum added 18 points and Malcolm Brogdon chipped in 16 off the bench.


“They have so many great guys that can put the ball in the basket,” Curry said. “Tatum and Brown have played amazingly high-level basketball all year.


“You’ve got to live with certain shots they take, but you try to make them work for it all night.


“Offensively we moved the ball, Klay got going early, but our defence connected with our offence, which is great.”


Curry downplayed the idea that the victory carried special significance.


“It got us above .500,” he said of a win that pushed the Warriors’ record to 14-13.


Boston star Tatum also said the early season contest — some six months after the Warriors rallied to win last season’s championship series — carried no special significance.


“It was one game,” Tatum said. “It’s not going to dictate our season. It’s all about how we respond.”


Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla said the setback could prove beneficial in the long run.


“They tested us,” Mazzulla said. “That’s good for us to go through.”


Elsewhere, the short-handed Brooklyn Nets — led by a career-high 33 points from Cam Thomas — edged the Indiana Pacers 136-133 in Indianapolis. — AFP


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