CLEVELAND - Stephen Curry pointed his hands skyward before slapping skin with teammate Draymond Green, knowing they had just accomplished the exhaustive feat they set as a goal in training camp in October.
After a 40-year championship drought, the Golden State Warriors are alone at the top of the NBA.
Behind 25 points apiece from Curry and Andre Iguodala, the Warriors took Game 6 of their best-of-seven Finals series against the Cavaliers, 105-97, at Quicken Loans Arena Tuesday night, winning the title for the first time since 1975.
LeBron James simply didn't get enough help, again serving as Cleveland's lone effective offensive weapon. He nearly recorded his third triple double in the series, with 32 points, 18 rebounds and nine assists in 46 minutes. He became the sixth player in league history to score 5,000 career playoff points, but that wasn't his goal.
James was hoping to deliver this pro championship-starved city its first title in 51 years, completing a storybook ending to an 11-month odyssey that began with his announcing he was coming home to Ohio after spending four seasons with the Heat.
However, a depleted roster punctuated by Kyrie Irving fracturing his left kneecap in overtime of Game 1 was too much for James ... Co. to overcome.
If ever there was a sign this wasn't the Cavaliers' night, it came in the third quarter. Despite Curry and Klay Thompson combining for only one point, Golden State outscored Cleveland 28-18 in the quarter and held a 73-61 edge at the outset of the fourth. The Cavaliers trailed by as many as 15 points in the quarter, in part because they went 6-for-20 from the floor and could not get their offense going.
Up 13 heading into the second quarter and with things unraveling early, Golden State appeared poised to blow the hinges off the arena.
Cleveland did its part to contribute to the early sloppiness, throwing the ball away nine times in the first quarter, directly leading to 14 points for the Warriors.
But a couple of not-so-smart decisions by Golden State kept the door ajar just enough for Cleveland to claw back into it. Thompson collected a pair of cheap fouls, forcing him to sit out the final 9:52 of the quarter with three personals. Iguodala, who had been doing a good job of making James work harder for his shots, got whistled for two fouls guarding other players not named James and had to take a seat for the remaining 3:47 of the first half.
With Iguodala's length and gritty athleticism out of the way, James got it going offensively after starting off slowly while looking to get his teammates involved. He netted 11 of his 15 first-half points in the second quarter, sparking the Cavaliers to outscore the Warriors 28-17 and pull within 45-43 at the half.
Cavaliers coach David Blatt caught a lot of heat for not giving Timofey Mozgov much playing time in Cleveland's Game 5 loss, going with a smaller lineup. Mozgov scored 28 points and snatched 10 rebounds in Game 4, but the Warriors kept getting out on the break too easily in transition and Mozgov was caught in no man's land far too often -- particularly with Iguodala's speed.
That didn't change much Tuesday night. Iguodala kept getting shots off pick-and-rolls because Mozgov couldn't get out to the perimeter quick enough. Iguodala didn't just settle for jumpers, though, and attacked the basket frequently on the way to posting 10 points on 10 shots in the first half.But he also got his teammates involved, as always, racking up four of Golden State's 16 assists through the first two quarters that set the ball-movement tone for the night, helping put the Warriors in prime position to capture their first title since Gerald Ford was president.