LeBron James recorded a triple-double, Kyrie Irving scored 40 points and the Cleveland Cavaliers broke scoring records while outperforming the NBA’s most electrifying offense in a testy Game 4 filled with technical fouls on Friday, beating the Golden State Warriors 137-116 and snapping their 15-game playoff winning streak.
“We have championship DNA,” said James, who broke Magic Johnson’s record with his ninth triple-double in the Finals. “We showed that tonight. We just kept our composure. We shared the ball, we moved the ball and defensively we were physical. It’s one game.”
But it’s the one they had to have, and a series that wasn’t living up to its hype and seemed headed for a quick conclusion is California bound for Game 5 on Monday night.
The Cavs scored a Finals record 86 points in the first half and then held on during a wild third and fourth quarter that included technical fouls, James jawing with fellow superstar Kevin Durant and Cleveland’s crowd roaring like a jet engine.
No team has ever come back from a 3-0 deficit in the NBA playoffs.
But until the Cavs did it last year, no team had ever rallied from a 3-1 deficit to win the Finals. Cleveland took Game 3 at home, lost Game 4 and then won the final three — Game 7 in Oakland — to capture the city’s first sports championship since 1964.
As the final seconds ticked off, Cleveland fans chanted “Cavs in 7.”
“Believeland is not going to give up,” Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said, “and we’re going to keep fighting. We’re going to keep scrapping.”
The Warriors had swept their first three series and were 48 minutes away from a party they’ve been planning for a year. But it’s on hold and Golden State fans are holding their breath.
‘We played a desperate team’
Coach Steve Kerr said his players aren’t worried about the past.
“I don’t think there was any concern or thoughts about history,” Kerr said. “I think it was we played a desperate team on their home floor, a great team, with great players, and they came out and handed it to us. Simple as that.”
Durant, still one win from the coveted championship he left Oklahoma City to get, scored 35 but got little help from Stephen Curry, who scored 14 on 4-of-13 shooting.
James finished with 31 points, 10 rebounds, 11 assists and on one trip threw the ball off the backboard to himself for a dunk.
Kevin Love made six three-pointers and added 23 points for Cleveland, which made 24 3s, another Finals mark.
If not for Cleveland’s Kyle Korver missing a three-pointer in the final minute of Game 3, the series would be 2-2.
In any event, the Cavs are still breathing and it’s now the Warriors who may be feeling the pressure after blowing a 3-1 lead last June.
Green avoids ejection
At one point, it was announced that Golden State’s Draymond Green had been given his second technical foul and security came onto the floor to usher the volatile forward to the locker room. However, a technical assessed to him in the first half was actually called on Warriors coach Steve Kerr, leading to the confusion.
Later, Warriors center Zaza Pachulia was involved in a pileup of players in the foul lane and he delivered two swipes to Iman Shumpert’s groin area as the referees tried to get control. Pachulia could have been tossed, but was only given a technical as was Shumpert. As this was being sorted out, Todd Leebow, a friend of James who was sitting with the three-time champion’s business partners, got involved in an argument with Golden State’s bench and was asked to leave.