Cavs avoid sweep, overwhelm Warriors in heated Game 4
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Kyrie Irving and LeBron James unleashed one of the NBA's greatest scoring onslaughts Friday, June 9 (Saturday in Manila) powering Cleveland over Golden State 137-116 to doom the Warriors' bid for a perfect playoff 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-7 series 3-1 and can claim the crown by winning game 5 at home on Monday (Tuesday in Manila) 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 playoff series but the Cavs 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.
The Cavaliers shot 24-of-45 from 3-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. No one else has more than two.
"It's going to be even tougher in game 5," 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 – who never led – could not manage the ninth sweep in finals history.
'Cavs in 7'
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.
A James 3-pointer put Cleveland ahead 115-96 entering the fourth quarter. James rested for the first 97 seconds of the fourth quarter but two quick Warriors' 3-pointers hastened his return as Golden State surged within 115-104.
But they never got closer.
Cavaliers fans were chanting, "Cavs in 7" in the final minutes.
James and Durant had a heated verbal exchange for an extended stretch midway into the third quarter while referees were reviewing a foul by Love on Durant, but they slapped hands when they returned to play.
Fans anticipating a historic NBA night were rewarded early, but likely not with what they expected.
Highest-scoring first half
The Cavaliers produced the highest-scoring half in NBA Finals history to seize a 86-68 half-time edge, powered by 28 points from Irving, 22 by James and 17 from Love.
The old mark of 81 points in a half was set by the 1982 Philadelphia 76ers.
It was also a record for the most total points in any finals half and the Cavaliers, who made 28-of-46 from the floor in the first half, set another record by connecting on 13-of-22 3-pointers in a half, eclipsing Golden State's two-day old mark of 12.
Irving, who shot 11-of-14 in the first half and 4-of-6 from 3-point range, scored a 3-point play with 1:07 to play in the second quarter to give the Cavs their largest lead of the finals at 83-61.
James, who shot 7-of-11 from the floor and 6-of-10 from the free throw line in the first half, added 8 assists and 6 rebounds in the first half.
Love, James, Irving combined for only one less point in the first half than the entire Warriors squad.
Cleveland opened with the highest-scoring quarter in NBA history, seizing a 49-33 lead after the first quarter, doing it despite missing 8 free throws.
"They brought a lot of force and we weren't ready for it," Kerr said.
In the historic opening period, Love scored 14 points, Irving added 11 and James contributed 8 points, 6 assists and 4 rebounds.
James, who passed Michael Jordan for third on the all-time NBA Finals scoring list with his first basket, sank a layup to give the Cavaliers their biggest lead of the finals to that point at 48-31. – Jim Slater, Agence France-Presse/Rappler.com