LeBron facing final game with Cavs after Warriors’ Game 3 win?
CLEVELAND — Kevin Durant pushed the Golden State Warriors to dynasty’s doorstep.
LeBron James could be at the exit door.
Durant scored 43 points, draining a lengthy 3-pointer in the last minute to cap his glorious 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 tournament in four years.
And Cleveland could be down to a last match with James, who listed his 10th triple-double from the finals. The three-time winner can opt from the $35.6 million contract and examine free agency this summer, and it can be time for the 33-year-old to find a team capable of beating the Warriors.
These Cavs can’t find out it.
CBSSports.com’s Kyle Boone writes,”There’ll 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 talked landing place 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 area from where he struck one in Game 3 last season – and effectively ended the fourth consecutive finals matchup between two teams who 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 seat.
“I tried to just 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 moment that helped define his first championship – did not happen to him.
“No, not at all,” he said of the comparison. “I only took the shot.”
“It was like deja vu seeing him hit that shot again,” Cavs ahead Kevin Love said.
Golden State will have four opportunities to wrap up its name beginning with Game 4 on Friday night. The Warriors are trying to combine a select list of teams to win three championships in four decades.
James scored 33 points and Kevin Love added 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 Durant was in Oklahoma City and James needed a different supporting cast.
“We had our chances,” James said. “You can’t make errors. 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 time.
Durant, who tilted this competition 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 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 up the Warriors 98-97 and defensive pro Andre Iguodala, who did not play Games 1 or two due to a knee injury, came up with a steal under the basket. Curry eventually buried a 3 and afterwards James matched him with a lengthy shot, Iguodala drove the lane for a dip dip.
Moments later, Durant delivered his dagger to silence Cleveland’s crowd.
“The shot clock was running back, I had been fairly much out, I only wanted to have a look,” Durant said. “I didn’t wish to run there and shoot a bad shot, drop on the ground and they got amounts moving the other way, and so I decided to pull up.”
James made a layup to pull on the Cavs within four, it had been too little too late as the Warriors closed out it and beat Cleveland for its fourth straight time in finals games.
Together with JaVale McGee acquiring three point-blank shots in the rim, the Warriors opened the third quarter with a 9-3 spurt and it was not long before they took his first lead on Curry’s two free throws.