Cavs stay alive with record-setting effort
CLEVELAND—A chance at perfection ended, the Golden State Warriors find themselves in the same spot in the 2017 Finals as they were at this time a year ago.
The Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Warriors 137-116 in Game 4 of the Finals on Friday night to avoid elimination. Kyrie Irving led all scorers with 40 points and LeBron James broke all kinds of records as he posted a triple-double.
The loss ended the Warriors' bid at a perfect 16-0 run through the playoffs, which had never been done. Golden State leads 3-1 in the series as it shifts back to Oakland, Calif., for Game 5 on Monday night.
The Cavs became the first team in NBA history to recover from a 3-1 deficit in the Finals last season. No team has come back from 3-0 in the playoffs.
The Cavs set Finals records with 86 points in the first half, 49 in the first quarter, and 3-pointers in a game (24). James finished with 31 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists for his ninth triple-double, passing Magic Johnson for first place in Finals history.
Kevin Love added 23 points for Cleveland and J.R. Smith finished with 15 points.
Kevin Durant led the Warriors with 35 points. Draymond Green added 16 points and 14 rebounds and Stephen Curry was 4 of 13 for 14 points.
The Warriors still have ample chances to win their second title in three seasons over the Cavs.
The third quarter was easily the most chaotic of the Finals. It started with 6:18 left in the quarter when Green appeared to pick up his second technical.
Instead of an automatic ejection, however, Green stayed in the game because officials insisted the first technical given to him—with 1:55 left in the first quarter—was actually assessed to Warriors coach Steve Kerr.
And with 1:10 left in the quarter, Zaza Pachulia and Kyle Korver were tied up on a loose ball. In the scrum, Pachulia appeared to kick Iman Shumpert—who was standing over him—once and punch him twice. Instead of an ejection for Pachulia, however, he and Shumpert were slapped with technicals.
The quarter closed with a 3-ball from Curry with 12 seconds to go, answered by one from James with 2.7 seconds remaining. The Cavs led 115-96.
Cleveland led 86-68 at halftime and were up by as many as 22. The 86 points were the most in a half in NBA Finals history.
A Durant 3-pointer at the buzzer brought the Warriors a little closer. Irving was up to 28 points and James had already registered 22 points, six rebounds and eight assists. The Cavs made 13 3-pointers.
The Cavaliers set a Finals record with 49 points in the first quarter and led by 16 when it was over. James had two foul shots with 2.9 seconds left and missed one, otherwise Cleveland would've hung 50 on the Warriors.
Four players—Green, Klay Thompson, Curry and Andre Iguodala—were whistled for two fouls in the first quarter. The Cavs took 22 free throws in the quarter but only made 14. They were 17-of-26 from the line at halftime.
NOTES: LeBron James said his mother, Gloria, did not want him to return to Cleveland and play for the Cavaliers in 2014, according to cleveland.com. James made the disclosure in a production for his online platform for athletes, Uninterrupted, in which he, Warriors star F Draymond Green, rapper 2 Chainz, and James' inner circle sat around at a barbershop during All-Star weekend in New Orleans. James said his mom didn't want him to leave the Miami Heat for the Cavs because of the letter Cleveland owner Dan Gilbert wrote to fans the night James bolted for the Heat in 2010. ... James passed Michael Jordan for third place in NBA Finals scoring history with his first basket and for first in free throws in the Finals. Jordan scored 1,176 points and connected on 1,463 free throws in six Finals. ... When the Warriors received 31 points from Kevin Durant and 30 from Klay Thompson in Game 3, it was the first time a team had two players score 30 points in consecutive Finals games since Elgin Baylor and Jerry West did it with the Los Angeles Lakers in Games 6 and 7 of the 1962 Finals.