Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) shoots on Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green, right, during the first half of Game 3 of basketball’s NBA Finals in Cleveland, Wednesday, June 8, 2016. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
CLEVELAND (AP) — LeBron James scored 32 points, Kyrie Irving added 30 and the Cleveland Cavaliers, pushed for 48 minutes by a delirious, championship-starved crowd, hammered the Golden State Warriors 120-90 in Game 3 on Wednesday night to pull within 2-1 in the NBA Finals.
On their home floor, where they have been dominant all postseason, the Cavs pulled their season from the brink of disaster following back-to-back blowout losses in the Bay Area.
They did it without starting forward Kevin Love, little help from their bench and by keeping Stephen Curry penned in.
The league’s MVP was mostly MIA, scoring 19 points — two in the first half — on 6-of-13 shooting. Harrison Barnes scored 18 and Klay Thompson 10 for Golden State, which had won seven straight over Cleveland — the first two finals games by a combined 48 points — and came back to the birthplace of rock and roll looking to party like they did after winning the title in Quicken Loans Arena last year.
The Cavs, though, have made this a series after it appeared the Warriors were on the fast track to another crown.
James had called it “do or die” for Cleveland.
Well, done and living.
Irving bounced back from two rough games out West, J.R. Smith made five 3-pointers and Tristan Thompson did the dirty work inside, getting 13 rebounds for the Cavs, who improved to 8-0 at home and can even the series with a win in Game 4 on Friday night.
The Cavs hardly missed Love, still suffering from a concussion sustained in Game 2. He wanted to play, but Love is still in the NBA’s concussion protocol and has not yet been cleared to return by league and team doctors.