CLEVELAND — Kevin Durant pushed the Golden State Warriors to dynasty’s doorstep.
LeBron James may be in the door.
Durant scored 43 points, draining a long 3-pointer in the final 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 championship in four decades.
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 out of the $35.6 million contract and also test free agency this summer, and it can be time for your 33-year-old to find a team capable of beating the Warriors.
These Cavs can’t figure 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 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 some time now.”
With the Cavs down 103-100, Durant stood and almost motionless after dropping his 33-footer – almost from precisely the same spot from where he hit one in Game 3 last year – and effectively finished the fourth straight finals matchup between two teams that have gotten to know each other well because 2015.
After Durant scored, Stephen Curry and Draymond surrounded Durant and screamed at their teammate, who calmly walked toward the bench.
“I tried to only stay in the zone,” Durant said, acknowledging he was nervous the Cavs could come back.
Durant reported the similarity with last year’s shot – a second which helped define his first championship – didn’t occur to him.
“No, not at all,” he said of the contrast. “I just took the shot.”
“It was like deja vu watching him hit that shot ,” Cavs ahead Kevin Love stated.
Golden State will have four chances to wrap up its title starting with Game 4 to Friday night. The Warriors are trying to combine a select collection of teams to win three championships in four years.
James scored 33 points and Kevin Love added 20 for the Cavs, who have fallen into the hole from which no team has ever emerged. 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 had a different supporting cast.
“We had our opportunities,” James said. “You can’t make mistakes. They’re 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 rivalry toward the West Coast when he signed up with the Warriors as a free agent before last season, was brilliant from the start. He helped offset a rough 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 did not 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 Games 1 or 2 due to a knee injury, came up with a sneak under the basket. Curry eventually buried a 3 and after 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 was fairly much out, I just wanted to get a look,” Durant said. “I didn’t wish to run and shoot a bad shot, drop on the ground and they got numbers moving the other way so I opted to pull up”
James made a layup to pull on the Cavs within four, it had been too little too late since the Warriors closed it out and beat Cleveland for the fourth straight time in finals games.
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 until they took their first lead on Curry’s two free throws.
Read more: valsdaily.com