CLEVELAND -- The Cleveland Cavaliers hustled and scrapped their way to a late fourth-quarter lead, only to watch the Golden State Warriors close the game out with 11 straight points on the way to a 118-113 victory in Game 3 of the 2017 NBA Finals.
Up by six points, 113-107, with 3:09 to play in Game 3, the Cavaliers did not score again, and thanks to the late run, the Warriors stole the victory and took a commanding 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven series heading into Friday’s Game 4 matchup at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland.
“It was like a natural shock how that game ended,” Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving said. “Naturally, you want to blame yourself because you feel just awful because it didn't go in. So it necessarily wasn't the right decision and you have so many other options and you start replaying that play over and over. For me, it's a comfortable shot.”
As the clock ticked under a minute, Warriors small forward Kevin Durant secured a defensive rebound and dribbled the ball over to the left wing, where he pulled up and knocked down a 26-foot three-pointer, which gave Golden State a 114-113 lead over the Cavaliers.
Then, Durant and point guard Stephen Curry closed out the game with two free throws each.
Conversely, Irving missed a step-back three-pointer that would have put the Cavaliers in front of the Warriors by two points with 26 seconds remaining.
“You also understand the energy level that it takes in order to make that type of shot and what it demands out of your body,” Irving said. “I just didn't give it enough. It was on line. It felt good coming out of my hands, but even for a tough step-back like that, it demands more out of my body and out of the focus, and it wasn't there for me. That was just very disappointing.”
Irving and small forward LeBron James led the way for the Cavaliers, as they totaled 38 and 39 points, respectively.
James knocked down 15 of his 27 attempts, including four of his nine looks from three-point range. Also, James corralled 11 rebounds, handed out nine assists, stole one pass and blocked a shot in the losing effort.
After struggling through Games 1 and 2, Irving knocked down 16 of his 29 looks from the field despite missing all seven of his three-point tries on the way to the 38 points. Irving added six rebounds and three assists in 44 minutes of play.
Now, the task for Irving and the Cavaliers is to ready themselves for an elimination game, a situation they have not faced since Game 5 of the 2016 NBA Finals.
“From a physical standpoint, you just try to do everything possible to recover,” Irving said. “From a mental standpoint, there is no other option, other than to prepare for Game 4 as best you can. That's it. This is as much as it was for all the games. This is as do or die as possible as I've ever faced in my career.
“We understand what's at stake, our whole entire season. There's really no other decision, other than to leave it all out there. You just can't let the emotions linger on, as best you can. Like I said, there's no other choice. There's no other choice.”