NBA (National Basketball Association)

Cleveland Cavaliers top Golden State Warriors to stay alive in NBA finals

Kyrie Irving scores a game-high 40 points as the defending champions pull the best-of-seven series to 3-1

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 10 June, 2017, 12:19pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 10 June, 2017, 1:08pm

Kyrie Irving and LeBron James unleashed one of the NBA’s greatest scoring onslaughts to power the Cleveland Cavaliers over Golden State 137-116 to end the Warriors’ bid for a perfect play-off run.

Irving scored 40 points while James added 31 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists and Kevin Love contributed 23 points as the defending champion Cavaliers snapped Golden State’s NBA-record post-season win streak at 15 games.

The Warriors still lead the best-of-seven series 3-1 and can claim the crown by winning game five at home on Monday in Oakland, California.

“It was do-or-die. The job is still far from over,” Irving said. “We’re still in a hole. But this is a good start.”

No team has escaped a 3-0 deficit to win an NBA play-off series, but the Cavaliers made the greatest NBA finals comeback last year from 3-1 down to beat the Warriors.

Opening the game with the highest-scoring quarter and half in NBA finals history, the Cavaliers became the first finals team trailing 3-0 to force a fifth game since the 1996 Seattle SuperSonics.

“We have championship DNA as well,” James said. “We showed that. We were in attack mode.”

The only finals team down 3-0 to force a seventh game was the 1951 New York Knicks.

‘I gave everything I had’: LeBron James’ best falls short in crushing Cavs loss to Warriors

The Cavaliers shot 24-of-45 from three-point range, setting a record for finals hoops from beyond the arc and finishing one shy of matching the league’s all-time record.

The ninth career NBA finals triple-double by James broke the all-time record he shared with Los Angeles Lakers legend Magic Johnson.

“It’s going to be even tougher in game five,” James said. “But we look forward to the challenge.”

Kevin Durant led Golden State with 35 points while Draymond Green added 16 points and 14 rebounds and Stephen Curry had 14 points, but the Warriors could not manage the ninth sweep in finals history having never led during game four.

Cleveland led 86-68 at half-time after the highest-scoring half in finals history, the Cavaliers setting a record for the most points in any quarter with 49 in the first and the most by one team in any half also.

Warriors beat Cavs 132-113 to take 2-0 Finals lead

A James three-pointer put Cleveland ahead 115-96 entering the fourth quarter, and after he rested for the first 97 seconds of the fourth quarter, two quick Warriors’ three-pointers hastened his return as Golden State surged within 115-104, but they never got closer.

“They brought a lot of force and we weren’t ready for it,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said.