Durant-led Warriors rally past Cavs for 3-0 Finals lead
CLEVELAND -- The Golden State Warriors are one win from a sweep, from revenge, from history.
Kevin Durant, the difference in the 2017 Finals, led the Warriors with 31 points and Golden State held off a furious effort by the Cleveland Cavaliers in a 118-113 win in Game 3.
Up 3-0 in the series, the Warriors can win their second title in three seasons and become the first team in NBA history to go through the playoffs without a loss with a win in Game 4 Friday night in Cleveland.
LeBron James scored 39 points for the Cavs and Kyrie Irving added 38. Cleveland went scoreless over the game's final 3:09. Durant, meanwhile, scored 14 points in the fourth quarter, including a 3-pointer with 45.3 seconds left for a 114-113 advantage. Golden State was down by six with three minutes left.
Klay Thompson added 30 points for the Warriors and Stephen Curry finished with 26 points and 13 rebounds.
J.R. Smith recovered from a poor first two games to score 16 for the Cavs.
Kevin Love added nine points, 13 rebounds and six steals.
Golden State is now 15-0 this postseason for the longest winning streak in the playoffs in any major professional sport.
The Warriors entered play as the best team in the NBA in the third quarter and had outscored the Cavs by 24 in the first two games. Not this time. Irving erupted for 16 points in the period and the Cavs forged a 94-89 lead by period's end.
It was Cleveland's first lead at the end of any quarter in this series. Love's 3-pointer at 8:59 gave the Cavs their first advantage at any point after the first quarter in this series, and Cleveland's 94-87 lead toward the end of the period was its largest of the series.
The Warriors closed the first quarter on a 10-0 run and led 39-32. They set an NBA record with nine 3-pointers in the quarter. Thompson was scorching with 16 points, while James countered with 16 for the Cavs.
With about six minutes left in the opening period, James was caught flush in the jaw by an inadvertent shoulder from teammate Tristan Thompson. James was rushing to the perimeter on defense, and Thompson moved back and the two collided, laying James out on the court. James remained in the game, and after the timeout scored on a drive to the hoop.
When the first half was over, James had 27 points and the Warriors had committed 12 turnovers, and yet Golden State still led 67-61. Irving drove the length of the floor and lobbed one high off the glass for a layup at the buzzer to get the Cavs to within six.
NOTES: LeBron James passed Sam Jones (1,143 points), Bill Russell (1,151 points), and Elgin Baylor (1,161 points) for fourth place on the Finals all-time scoring list in the first half. He passed Russell (315 assists) for third all-time in Finals assists, too. ... Country music stars and Columbus, Ohio, natives Rascal Flatts sang the national anthem. ... Urban Meyer, Ohio State football coach and friend of James, was among the celebrities on hand as was PGA Tour star Bubba Watson. ... The last time the Warriors lost with Kevin Durant healthy was Feb. 13 in Denver, prior to the All-Star break. ... According to Forbes Magazine, LeBron James is the second-highest paid athlete in the world in 2017, with salary and endorsements totaling $86.2 million. Durant is fifth on that list at $60.6 million, and Curry is eighth at $47.3 million.