Cavaliers avoided a sweep with a 137-116 victory over Golden State Warriors in Friday’s Game 4 at Quicken Loans Arena.
The Cavaliers poured in a record-breaking 24 three-pointers to break the NBA finals record set by the Warriors. LeBron James led the way with a triple-double of 31 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds; while Kyrie Irving added 40 points and seven boards. Kevin Love finished with 23 points, including six three-pointers, while JR Smith chipped in 15.
History would suggest Cleveland’s win only delays the inevitable; no team in NBA history has ever rallied from a 3-0 deficit to win in 126 previous tries. But no team had ever won an NBA finals from 3-1 down until the Cavaliers pulled it off last year. Now they’ll look to repeat the feat starting with Game 5 on Monday night in Oakland. “Obviously the job is still far from over,” said Kyrie Irving, who finished with a game-high 40 points. “This is a good start.”
Cavaliers Start off well
The Cavaliers came out swinging in the opening minutes as Irving, Smith and Love drained long jumpers; to open a 24-9 advantage, their largest lead of the series. That’s when Golden State inserted Andre Iguodala for Zaza Pachulia for one of their vaunted death lineups. The Warriors had settled down and slowly chipped away on 10 straight points from Durant that cut it to 31-25.
But the turnover-prone Warriors couldn’t keep pace with the torrid shooting of the Cavaliers; who led 49-33 after 12 minutes, setting an NBA finals record for points in a quarter; despite missing eight of their free throws – against a team that’s as well-regarded defensively as any in the league.
The Cavaliers extended their lead to 19 points early in the second, but Warriors cut it to 11. Then James returned and within three minutes the hot-shooting Irving and Smith stretched Cleveland’s lead to 69-49.
Lebron and Durant have an heated exchange
It was often physical and fraught with hostility – including seven technical fouls; a flagrant and a heated exchange of words between James and Durant, who finished with a team-high 35 points. At one point it appeared Draymond Green had been ejected for picking up a second technical foul, but he was allowed to remain in the game. The officials said the first had been called on Kerr and mistakenly recorded in the box score to the Warriors forward.
Golden State chipped away methodically during the third quarter, getting as close as 104-92 with 2:38 remaining. But Kyle Korver, Deron Williams and James added three-pointers before the end of the frame; stretching the lead back to 19 points and giving Cleveland the record before the fourth quarter had even started.
“We have championship DNA as well,” said James, who surpassed Michael Jordan for No.3 on the all-time finals scoring list. “We just kept our composure. Shared the ball, we moved the ball and defensively we were physical.”
The result cost the Warriors, winners of 30 of their last 31 games extending back to the regular season, a chance at the NBA’s first ever flawless playoff run. Instead, they’ll try to join the select list of one-loss champions: the 2001 Los Angeles Lakers (15-1) and 1983 Philadelphia 76ers (12-1).
“(16-0) would have mattered but that’s gone now,” said Klay Thompson, who finished with 13 points. “But 16-1 sounds pretty good.”