OAKLAND, Calif. (Diya TV) — LeBron James and Kyrie Irving saved their best performances of the playoffs thus far for when it mattered most — the duo combined for a total of 82 points scored in Cleveland’s 112-97 victory, denying a sold out crowd of 19.596 the opportunity to see a Bay Area team clinch a championship at home for the first time since 1974.
James added another 16 rebounds and seven assists to his final stat line in the game, Irving grabbed six rebounds and distributed three assists of his own. The two became the first pair of teammates in NBA history to each score 40 points in the same game in the NBA Finals.
It’s precisely the type of effort head coach Tyronn Lue and the team was looking for.
“We just want them [James and Irving] to be aggressive, continue to attack like we’ve been talking about all series,” Lue said during his postgame interview. “And they had two great games, two breakout games. We need those two guys to give us confidence early, and they both did that.”
For James, the win represented just one thing: Survival.
“We’re just happy we got another day. That’s all we can ask for,” James said after the win. “We got another day to survive. We’re going to start preparing tonight, start prepping tomorrow, and whenever Game 6 is we’ll be ready.”
Kevin Love returned to Cleveland’s starting lineup for the first time since sustaining a concussion in Game 2 — veteran reserve Richard Jefferson started in his place the last two games. Love played 32 minutes in the game, going 1 for 5 for two points.
The loss was just the fourth time all season the Warriors have been beaten on their home court.
Tied at 61-all at halftime, the Warriors returned to the court for the second half and missed 14 of the first 20 shots they attempted. Golden State shot 7 for 21 in the third quarter, and just 36.4 percent for the game.
Klay Thompson scored 37 points in the game, 18 of which came from 3-pointers. Fellow Splash Brother Stephen Curry added 25 of his own, sinking five 3-pointers, grabbing seven rebounds and dishing four assists. He also blocked two shots in the game.
Starting center Andrew Bogut went down hard in the third quarter with an apparent left knee injury, he required assistance to get off the court and down the tunnel, visibly unable to put any weight on the leg. Kerr said the big man will undergo an MRI on the knee tonight.
Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said his squad, playing without its best defender in Draymond Green, became defensively exposed in the loss. He said lack of communication on the court likely played a large factor in the breakout performances of James and Irving.
“We weren’t very good defensively,” Kerr said. “We obviously knew we were without Draymond, so there’s no point in harping on that. We had to play better, and we didn’t. Both those guys played terrific games, shot the ball well. I thought our defensive communication was lacking.”
Due to his suspension, Green was banned from the arena, and instead watched the game from the privacy of a luxury box suite at the next-door Oakland Coliseum, where the MLB’s Oakland Athletics were taking on the Texas Rangers. General manager Bob Myers and former Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch were there to keep him company.