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 lengthy 3-pointer in the last minute to cap his glorious performance, along with 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 match with James, who listed his 10th triple-double in the finals. The three-time winner can opt from his $35.6 million deal and also test free agency this summer, and it can be time for the 33-year-old to locate a team capable of beating the Warriors.
These Cavs can not find out it.
CBSSports.com’s Kyle Boone writes,”There will be endless banter about where free-agent-to-be LeBron James makes the decision to sign when he chooses to leave Cleveland. But one destination, the Los Angeles Lakers, has been the most discussed landing spot for the superstar for quite some time now.”
With the Cavs down 103-100, Durant stood defiantly and nearly motionless after dropping his 33-footer – nearly from the same spot from where he hit one in Game 3 last season – and effectively finished the fourth consecutive finals matchup between two teams that have gotten to know each other well since 2015.
After Durant scored, Stephen Curry and Draymond surrounded Durant and cried in their teammate, who calmly walked toward the bench.
“I attempted to only stay in the zone,” Durant said, acknowledging he was worried the Cavs could still 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 photo.”
There was nothing that the Cavs could perform.
“It was like deja vu seeing him hit that shot ,” Cavs forward Kevin Love stated.
Golden State will have four chances to wrap up its name beginning with Game 4 on Friday night. The Warriors are attempting to join a select collection of teams to win three championships in four decades.
James scored 33 points and Kevin Love additional 20 for the Cavs, who have fallen into the hole where no team has ever arose. Cleveland came back from a 3-1 deficit to stun the Warriors in 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 not make errors. They’re not going to beat themselves.”
The Warriors won despite a 3-of-16 shooting performance from Curry, who did come up big down the stretch as the Cavs were trying to salvage their time.
Durant, that tilted this rivalry toward the West Coast when he signed with the Warriors as a free agent before last year, was brilliant from the beginning. He helped cancel a night for Curry, who left 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 specialist Andre Iguodala, who didn’t play in Games 1 or 2 because of a knee injury, came up with a steal under the basket. Curry eventually murdered a 3 and afterwards James matched him with a lengthy shot, Iguodala drove the lane for a thundering dunk.
Moments later, Durant delivered his dagger to silence Cleveland’s audience.
“The shot clock was running back, I was pretty far out, I just wanted to get a look,” Durant said. “I did not want to run and take a bad shot, drop on the ground and they got amounts moving the other way so I opted to pull up.”
James made a layup to pull the Cavs in four, it was too little too late since the Warriors shut out it and beat Cleveland for the fourth consecutive time in finals games.
Together with JaVale McGee getting three point-blank shots in the rim, the Warriors started the third quarter with a 9-3 spurt and it wasn’t long before they took his first lead on Curry’s two free throws.
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