Cleveland's LeBron James goes to the basket against Golden State's Jordan Bell as Kevin Durant looks on in the first half of Game 3 of the NBA Finals on Wednesday in Cleveland.
CLEVELAND — LeBron James and the Cavaliers are on the verge of getting swept, and Kevin Durant is the biggest reason why.
Behind a sensational performance from former league MVP Durant, the Golden State Warriors recorded a 110-102 victory Wednesday in Game 3 of the NBA Finals at Quicken Loans Arena.
“I’m not done playing basketball yet,” said Durant, who finished with 43 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists. “I don’t really look at these as defining moments. I don’t want to downplay anything, but I don’t want to act like this is the end of the road.”
Up 3-0 in the best-of-seven series, the Warriors can win their third title in four years with a victory in Game 4 Friday at The Q. All four series have been against the Cavs, who will attempt to become the first team to rally from a 3-0 deficit in Finals history.
“The margin of error is very low,” said James, who had a triple-double with 33 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists. “It’s almost like playing the Patriots. They’re not going to beat themselves. ... You can’t have lulls or ‘My bads’ or ‘My faults’ because they’re going to make you pay.”
Durant’s big effort — he also was huge against the Cavs in Game 3 last year when the Warriors went up 3-0 and eventually won in five — came on a night when teammate and
two-time league MVP Stephen Curry went 3-for-16 from the field and 1-for-10 on 3-pointers in an 11-point, five-rebound, six-assist performance.
“That was amazing what he did out there tonight,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said of Durant, who was 15-for-23 from the field, 6-for-9 on 3-pointers and 7-for-7 at the line. “Some of those shots, I don’t think anybody in the world can hit those but him. He was incredible.”
For much of the night, center JaVale McGee (10 points) was the Warriors’ second-leading scorer. Klay Thompson also finished with 10 on 4-for-11 shooting, as did Draymond Green, who added nine assists, and Jordan Bell.
“This is the beauty of this team and the luxury we have of having multiple big-time scorers,” Kerr said. “There’s going to be nights like this for all of them.”
Kevin Love had 20 points and 13 boards for the Cavs, but just five points and three rebounds after intermission. Pulled off the scrap pile, seldom-used Rodney Hood was terrific with 15 points on 7-for-11 shooting and six rebounds, but the Cavs were outscored by 12 points in the 26 minutes he was on the floor.
J.R. Smith added 13 points, but only three in the second half, and Kyle Korver’s tremendous struggles continued, as he went scoreless on 0-for-4 shooting in 11 minutes and is now 1-for-10 in the series..
As a result, Cleveland lost at home for just the second time in 10 playoff games, and this one hurt.
“Holding Steph to 11 points and Klay to 10, you would think you’d win that game,” Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said.
Neither team led by more than three points in the fourth quarter until Curry, 0-for-9 from behind the arc to that point, finally buried a 3-pointer to put the Warriors up 101-97 with 2:36 to play.
“Me and my brother growing up always said you’ve got to hit your last shot before you leave the gym,” Curry said. “I got it done tonight.”
The Cavs got three shots on their next possession, with James eventually hitting a 3-pointer to make it a one-point game with 1:58 left
Golden State’s Andre Iguodala, playing for the first time in The Finals after missing six games with a bruised left knee, then scored on a dunk and Cleveland’s Tristan Thompson missed inside, setting up the biggest shot of the game.
Durant buried a 28-foot 3-pointer, off the dribble, to put his team up 106-100 with 49.8 ticks on the clock. The teams exchanged hoops before the Cavs’ Smith missed a 3-pointer, marking the beginning of the end for Cleveland.
“He’s an assassin,” James said of Durant. “That’s one of those assassin plays right there.”
The Warriors started the third quarter on an 11-3 run and took their first lead, 63-61, on a pair of Curry free throws with 9:57 left in the period. Golden State extended that spurt to 17-6 to go up 69-64 and also led by five on several other occasions, but had to settle for an 83-81 advantage heading into the fourth.
“The third quarter’s kind of been our Achilles’ heel all year,” Love said.
Having squandered a 12-point lead in the first period, the Cavs went up 50-37 with four minutes left in the half, but the Warriors trailed just 58-52 at intermission thanks to 24 points from Durant. Thompson and Curry were just 3-for-15 from the field at that point, including 1-for-9 on 3-pointers.
The Warriors also stayed close by going 12-for-13 at the line in the first half, while Cleveland didn’t attempt a free throw. That led to Cavs owner Dan Gilbert posting a picture on Twitter of the first-half box score, with the free throw numbers circled.
“Kevin was the story in the first half just keeping us in the game,” Kerr said of Durant. “He was the story in the second half as well, closing it out.”
The Cavs couldn’t have started the game any better, as they scored on their first five possessions and eventually led 16-4.
Love and Smith began the game with corner 3-pointers, and soon after James caused the crowd to go bonkers by firing the ball off the backboard and then chasing it down for a dunk. Technically, he was credited with a shot attempt and offensive rebound prior to scoring off what was essentially his own lob pass.
Curry picked up his second foul with 6:21 left in the period, while Green and Tristan Thompson were hit with double technical fouls at the 5:37 mark.
After all that, the Cavs couldn’t sustain, as the Warriors tied the game at 26 with a 16-6 run and trailed just 29-28 after one.
The same thing happened in the second period, the Warriors went past the Cavs in the third, then Durant delivered the dagger in the fourth.
“The rest of the night will be tough,” James said. “I’m not sure what time I’ll end up getting to bed.”
Warriors 110, Cavaliers 102
GOLDEN STATE (110): Durant 15-23 7-7 43, D.Green 4-8 2-2 10, McGee 5-7 0-0 10, Curry 3-16 4-4 11, K.Thompson 4-11 0-0 10, Bell 4-5 2-4 10, Looney 0-0 0-0 0, West 0-2 0-0 0, Livingston 4-5 0-0 8, McCaw 0-0 0-0 0, Young 0-0 0-0 0, Iguodala 3-4 2-2 8. Totals 42-81 17-19 110.
CLEVELAND (102): James 13-28 6-7 33, Love 6-13 5-5 20, T.Thompson 4-8 0-1 8, Hill 2-6 0-0 5, Smith 5-14 0-0 13, Nance Jr. 2-4 1-2 5, J.Green 1-4 0-0 3, Korver 0-4 0-0 0, Hood 7-11 1-2 15. Totals 40-92 13-17 102.
Golden State 28 24 31 27 — 110
Cleveland 29 29 23 21 — 102
3-Point Goals—Golden State 9-26 (Durant 6-9, K.Thompson 2-5, Curry 1-10, D.Green 0-2), Cleveland 9-31 (Love 3-7, Smith 3-10, Hill 1-2, J.Green 1-3, James 1-6, Hood 0-1, Korver 0-2). Fouled Out—None. Rebounds—Golden State 37 (Durant 13), Cleveland 47 (Love 13). Assists—Golden State 27 (D.Green 9), Cleveland 20 (James 11). Total Fouls—Golden State 20, Cleveland 18. Technicals—D.Green, Golden State coach Warriors (Defensive three second), T.Thompson.
Percentages: FG .519, FT .895.
Team Rebounds: 4.
Team Turnovers: 10 (11 PTS).
Blocked Shots: 4 (McGee 2, Bell, K.Thompson).
Turnovers: 10 (Durant 3, Curry 2, D.Green 2, Iguodala, McGee, West).
Steals: 6 (D.Green 2, Curry, Durant, Iguodala, K.Thompson).
Percentages: FG .435, FT .765.
Team Rebounds: 9.
Team Turnovers: 13 (19 PTS).
Blocked Shots: 5 (Hood 2, James 2, T.Thompson).
Turnovers: 13 (Hill 4, James 4, Love 2, J.Green, Korver, Nance Jr.).
Steals: 6 (Smith 3, James 2, Love).
A—20,562 (20,562). T—2:19.
Officials—Marc Davis, Eric Lewis, Zach Zarba, John Goble
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