By TIM REYNOLDS
AP Basketball Writer
CLEVELAND (AP) – Ayesha Curry was angry about getting into Game 6 of the NBA Finals later than she planned. Stephen Curry was steaming when he left the game earlier than he wanted.
A tough night for the Curry family.
A tougher night for the Golden State Warriors.
Stephen Curry, the league’s two-time reigning MVP, was in foul trouble most of the way and thought most of the calls were in error – especially the one when he fouled out and got ejected for good measure for a combination of throwing his mouthpiece and berating referee Jason Phillips. It was an inglorious end to a troubling Thursday night, one where the Warriors lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers 115-101 in Game 6 to knot the title series at 3-3.
“I’ve never been ejected before. It was a weird feeling,” Curry said. “It was just frustration and kind of hilarious the way that the last two fouls and me blowing up kind of unfolded, some of the things that were said out there.”
He was laughing a bit then, but this is no joke: The legacy of this season for the Warriors hinges entirely on the Game 7 that awaits on Sunday night.
The Warriors haven’t lost three straight all season. No team in NBA Finals history has ever blown a 3-1 lead . And Golden State better hope both of those things still ring true after the 1,316th and final game of the season, or else their record-setting 73-win regular season will be overshadowed by the memory of not being able to take home the biggest prize.
“Let me be clear: We did not lose because of the officiating,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “They totally outplayed us and Cleveland deserved to win. But three of the six fouls (called on Curry) were incredibly inappropriate calls for anybody, much less the MVP of the league.”
Draymond Green was a nonfactor, Harrison Barnes couldn’t make a shot and Andre Iguodala’s back was so balky that he often winced when he moved and needed treatment multiple times during the game.
They were battered, they were beaten, and they were livid afterward.
Kerr will surely get fined for criticizing officials; his comments on Curry and how Phillips fell for what the Warriors thought was a LeBron James flop will cost the coach of the year $25,000 – money well spent if the Warriors win Game 7.
Curry will also likely face a fine for throwing the mouthpiece that struck a fan sitting courtside – if league precedent in such matters holds. Curry immediately apologized to the fan and it appeared that he and Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue were sharing a laugh about the incident in the immediate moments that followed.
“I’ve thrown my mouthpiece before,” Curry said. “I usually aim at the scorer’s table. I was off-aim. … But the last two fouls I had, I didn’t think I fouled either Kyrie (Irving) or LeBron. That’s my perception of the plays and I had a reaction to it.”
Golden State never led, faced their largest end-of-first-quarter deficit of the entire season and now will have an unimaginable amount of pressure when Sunday night’s winner-take-all game rolls gets played at Oracle Arena.
“No, we’re fine,” Green said. “It’s a new game. Game 7 at home. If you ask any player and coach in the league, if they have Game 7 at home for the NBA championship they’ll take it.”
Curry led the Warriors with 30 points, and Klay Thompson finished with 25 yet neither ever seemed to get totally on track. The other three Golden State starters – Green (8), Iguodala (5) and Barnes (0 for 8 from the field, 0 points) – combined for 13 points.
Golden State trailed 31-9 late in the first quarter before getting within eight points later in the half, then trailed by 24 in the third quarter and eventually cut that deficit down to 86-79 early in the fourth, albeit in vain.
“Just didn’t go our way,” Curry said.
James was unstoppable, dominating play at both ends and finishing with 41 points for the second consecutive game. Tristan Thompson made all six of his shots and finished with 15 points and 16 rebounds for Cleveland – which outrebounded the Warriors 45-35.
Ayesha Curry got to her seat just before tipoff, tweeting out that the bus carrying her and other Warriors’ family members wasn’t getting into the arena very quickly.
So the start of the night set her off, and the way it ended was worse.
“I’ve lost all respect sorry this is absolutely rigged for money… Or ratings in not sure which,” Ayesha Curry tweeted just before the final buzzer, a post she deleted after a few minutes and around 80,000 retweets. “I won’t be silent . Just saw it live sry.”
She’ll see another game live on Sunday night. It’ll decide the season.
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