CLEVELAND — Kevin Durant pushed the Golden State Warriors into dynasty’s doorstep.
LeBron James may be at the door.
Durant scored 43 points, draining a long 3-pointer in the final minute to cap his magnificent performance, and the Warriors beat James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, 110-102, in Game 3 of the NBA Finals on Wednesday night to move within a victory of a sweep, their second straight title and third championship in four decades.
And Cleveland may be down to a last game with James, who recorded his 10th triple-double from the finals. The three-time winner can opt from his $35.6 million deal and also examine free agency this summer, and it may be time for the 33-year-old to find a team capable of beating the Warriors.
These Cavs can not find out it.
CBSSports.com’s Kyle Boone writes,”There’ll be endless banter about where free-agent-to-be LeBron James decides to signal if he chooses to leave Cleveland. However one destination, the Los Angeles Lakers, has been the most talked landing spot for the superstar for quite a while now.”
With the Cavs down 103-100, Durant stood and almost motionless after dropping his 33-footer – almost from the same spot from where he hit one in Game 3 last year – and effectively ended the fourth straight finals matchup between two teams who have gotten to know each other well because 2015.
After Durant scored, Stephen Curry and Draymond surrounded Durant and cried at their teammate, who calmly walked toward the seat.
“I tried to only stay in the zone,” Durant said, admitting that he was worried the Cavs could come back.
Durant reported the similarity with last year’s shot – a second which helped define his first championship – did not occur to him.
“No, not at all,” he said of the comparison. “I just took the shot.”
There was nothing the Cavs could perform.
“It was like deja vu seeing him hit that shot ,” Cavs forward Kevin Love stated.
Golden State will have four opportunities to wrap up its name beginning with Game 4 on Friday night. The Warriors are attempting to join a select collection of groups to win three championships in four years.
James scored 33 points and Kevin Love additional 20 for the Cavs, who have dropped into the hole from which no team has ever emerged. Cleveland came back from a 3-1 deficit to stun the Warriors at the 2016 finals, but that was when Durant was in Oklahoma City and James had another supporting cast.
“We had our opportunities,” James stated. “You can’t make mistakes. They are not going to beat themselves.”
The Warriors won despite a 3-of-16 shooting operation from Curry, who did come up big down the stretch as the Cavs were trying to salvage their season.
Durant, who tilted this rivalry toward the West Coast when he signed with the Warriors as a free agent before last season, was brilliant from the beginning. He helped cancel a night for Curry, who made a finals-record nine 3-pointers in Game 2, but was just 1 of 10 from behind the arc and didn’t score his second field goal until there were under three minutes left.
Curry’s scoop shot put the Warriors up 98-97 and defensive pro Andre Iguodala, who didn’t play in Games 1 or 2 due to a knee injury, came up with a steal under the basket. Curry eventually murdered a 3 and afterwards James matched him with a long shot, Iguodala drove the lane for a thundering dunk.
Seconds later, Durant delivered his dagger to silence Cleveland’s audience.
“The shot clock was running back, I had been fairly much out, I just wanted to have a look,” Durant said. “I did not want to run there and take a bad shot, drop on the floor and they got numbers moving the other way, and so I decided to pull up”
James made a layup to pull the Cavs in four, it had been too little too late as the Warriors closed out it and beat Cleveland for the fourth straight time in finals games.
Together with JaVale McGee getting three point-blank shots at the rim, the Warriors started the third quarter with a 9-3 spurt and it wasn’t long before they took their first lead on Curry’s two free throws.
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