National Basketball Association
Cleveland 96, Golden State 91
When: 9:00 PM ET, Tuesday, June 9, 2015
Where: Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, Ohio
#43 Dan Crawford, #14 Ed Malloy, #8 Marc Davis
CLEVELAND -- This time there wasn't a spike, stomp and roar. This time when the game was over, LeBron James merely set the ball down on the court and exhaled deeply.
The Cleveland Cavaliers are halfway to a championship, but James knows there is still so much work to be done.
James scored 40 points, grabbed 12 rebounds and passed for eight assists, guard Matthew Dellavedova added 20 points, and the Cavaliers beat the Golden State Warriors 96-91 Tuesday night to take a 2-1 lead in the NBA Finals.
Game 4 in the best-of-seven series is Thursday at Quicken Loans Arena.
The injury-ravaged Cavs continue to find ways against the heavily favored Warriors despite all odds.
"We know we have to get more out of ourselves than maybe even humanly possible sometimes," Cavs coach David Blatt said, "but that's the situation. We have a chance to do something very special, and if it requires us to go above and beyond, that's what we've got to do."
James' 123 points through three NBA Finals games are the most in league history, edging Rick Barry's previous record of 122 points, set in 1967. The Warriors ultimately lost that series 4-2 to the Philadelphia 76ers.
James made two huge plays near the end of the game to secure the victory, slapping the ball away from Warriors point guard Stephen Curry to force a turnover and later stealing an inbounds pass from Curry. James was fouled after the steal and made both free throws to put the Cavs ahead 92-83 in the final minute.
Curry scored 27 points, including 17 in the fourth quarter (five 3-pointers) after another slow start. He also committed three turnovers in the last two minutes, including two in the final minute, but his 3-pointer from the corner with 28 seconds left pulled the Warriors within 92-88.
A pair of James free throws extended the Cavs' lead to 94-88, but Curry cut the lead in half with a 3-pointer from the wing.
"We became the aggressors," Curry said of the fourth quarter. "Just like the last three minutes of Game 2. For us to win this series, we have to play that way for the whole game."
So far that has been a major problem in large part because of James and his insistence to grind down the pace of the series.
James has played 142 of a possible 154 minutes in the series. He shot just 14-for-34 Tuesday and is down to 36 percent through three games, but he continues to lift a team that is in winning without two injured All-Stars, forward Kevin Love and point guard Kyrie Irving. James is seeing his efficiency take a beating in the process.
"I'm not OK with it, but I'm so outside the box right now," James said. "This is a totally different challenge. I've never played where two All-Stars were out."
The Warriors trailed the entire night in losing consecutive games for the second time in this postseason. They also fell behind 2-1 to the Memphis Grizzlies in the Western Conference semifinals before rallying to win three straight.
But the Grizzlies didn't have James.
"We all know the accolades he has. He's a great player," Curry said. "He's getting up a lot of attempts, and anybody that's that much of a volume shooter when he needs to be for his team, he's going to have points. But the timely ones are the ones that killed us."
James and Dellavedova combined for the Cavs' first 17 points of the third quarter and Cleveland extended its lead to 68-48, the largest margin of the night. Yet just when the Warriors looked overwhelmed and fading, they found a way to climb back.
Curry made a 3-pointer and a pull-up jumper near the end of the third, and then the Warriors outscored the Cavs 15-3 to start the fourth.
Guard Klay Thompson and swingman Andre Iguodala made 3-pointers, forward David Lee completed a three-point play, and the Warriors pulled within 77-73 on Curry's third 3-pointer of the night. Curry had a
Top Game Performances
Stephen Curry 27
LeBron James 40
Stephen Curry 6
LeBron James 8
Festus Ezeli 7
Tristan Thompson 13
David Lee 3
||Free Throws Made
LeBron James 10
Stephen Curry 3
LeBron James 4
Festus Ezeli 2
Timofey Mozgov 4
Team Stats Summary
Cleveland will play their next game at home against Golden State. The Cavaliers have a W/L % of .731 after a win and .500 after a loss.
Golden State will play their next game on the road against Cleveland. The Warriors have a W/L % of .836 after a win and .733 after a loss.