Splish, splash: Curry, Thompson lead Warriors to Game 4 win
CLEVELAND (AP) Stephen Curry got back to dropping deep shots, chomping on that mouthpiece and even barking at LeBron James.
Not himself through the first three games of the NBA Finals, Curry arrived in Game 4 just in time and pushed the Golden State Warriors within one win of making more history in this season of seasons.
Curry found his long-range touch and scored 38 points, Klay Thompson added 25 and the Warriors beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 108-97 on Friday night.
Curry had scored just 48 total points in the first three games, but the two-time league MVP made seven 3-pointers and Thompson, his Splash Brother, drained four 3s as the Warriors took a 3-1 lead in the series.
Golden State, which made history with a 73-win regular season, can become the seventh franchise to win consecutive titles with a victory in Game 5 on Monday night at rip-roaring Oracle Arena, where they won the first two games by a combined 48 points.
"We answered the bell," said Curry, who displayed the skills that have made him one of the world's best players. "We got back to who we are as a team."
Coach Steve Kerr wasn't surprised by Curry's comeback.
"He's Stephen Curry," Kerr said. "He's the MVP for a reason."
After blowing out the Warriors by 30 in Game 3, the Cavaliers had a chance to even the series. However, LeBron James and Co. didn't enough to contain Curry, Thompson or Harrison Barnes, who made four 3s and added 14 points.
The Warriors set an NBA Finals record with 17 3-pointers.
"They got going," Kerr said. "Sooner or later it's going to happen. You can't keep guys like that down forever. The law of averages took over."
Kyrie Irving scored 34 points for the Cavs, who will need much more in Game 5 or they'll finish as runner-up to the Warriors for the second year in a row.
James added 25 points, 13 rebounds and nine assists, but the superstar also had seven turnovers and was too passive at times. Kevin Love returned to the lineup after missing Game 3 with a concussion and added 11 points off the bench.
Cleveland, which came in 8-0 at home in the playoffs, went 6:36 without a field goal in the fourth quarter, the kind of scoring drought no team can afford against the potent Warriors.
"A lot less breakdowns than what we had last game," Curry said. "We checked the 3-point line and it was just all-around communication, toughness and effort."
With Golden State leading 88-84, Curry got loose for a backdoor layup and Barnes followed with a dagger 3-pointer, deflating a crowd of 20,000-plus fans clinging to hope that this would be the year Cleveland would win its first pro sports championship since 1964.
But this seems to be the Warriors' year from start to finish.
Off the mark in the first three games, the Splash Brothers found the pool in the third quarter.
Thompson made four 3-pointers and Curry knocked down three from behind the arc as the pair combined for 19 of Golden State's 29 points in the period. Their arrival was a welcomed relief for the Warriors, who had managed to bury the Cavs in the first two games despite minimal production from their two stars.
But with Golden State's golden season being threatened again, Curry and Thompson stepped up the way they did in the Western Conference finals.
When James was introduced before the game, he went through his usual handshake ritual with his teammates before telling Irving, "Be special."
The point guard was terrific, but Curry and Thompson were just better.
Unlike in Game 3, when they fell into an early hole and never recovered, the Warriors came out strong and stayed step for step with the Cavaliers.
Curry made three 3-pointers in the first half, with his last one giving Golden State a three-point lead. With the Warriors up 42-41, Curry drove to the basket but had his shot blocked by Irving, sending Cleveland's bench and crowd into a frenzy.
The Cavs closed the half with an 8-2 run highlighted by Tristan Thompson dribbling in circles before making a turnaround jump shot from the corner, not the shot the Cavs were looking for but were happy to accept.
Irving and James took 33 of Cleveland's 38 shots in the second half and made 16 of the team's 18 field goals.
James and Draymond Green exchanged words in the fourth quarter after it appeared the Golden State forward hit Cleveland's star below the belt.
Warriors: Thompson wore a wrap on his left leg for protection and support following his Game 3 run-in with Cavs C Timofey Mozgov. ... Surprisingly, one of Kerr's first substitutions was James Michael McAdoo, who had not played a single minute in the first three games. ... C Anderson Varejao, who spent 11 seasons with the Cavs before he was traded in February, had three offensive rebounds and made two free throws during a four-minute stretch late in the third quarter.
Cavaliers: Love came off the bench for the first time since 2010 with Minnesota. His return didn't have everyone excited. After he went through a rigorous pregame workout along with assistant coach James Posey, Love ran off the floor, where a Cleveland fan had a stern message for him. "Toughen up, Love," he hollered. ... Two coaching giants were among the courtside celebrities. Ohio State's Urban Meyer sat near Cleveland's bench while Pep Guardiola, the Spanish soccer coach taking over at Manchester City after three years with Bayern Munich, wore a No. 23 Cleveland jersey.