CLEVELAND -- Following his team’s 118-113 come-from-behind victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 3 of the 2017 NBA Finals at Quicken Loans Arena Wednesday night, Golden State Warriors Steve Kerr said he believes the Cavaliers struggled down the stretch and surrendered the late lead because of fatigue.
Upon hearing those comments, the Cavaliers were quick to dismiss the excuse of fatigue as the reason for their late-game collapse, which put them in an 0-3 deficit in the best-of-seven series and left no room for error going forward.
“It's The Finals,” Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving said. “We had our horses in. Myself and Bron eclipsed the 43-minute mark, playing pretty well, then they made some big-time plays down the stretch. They're a juggernaut of a team, do a great job of spacing out the floor, keeping a high tempo, and just made some big-time plays down the stretch. You've got to give credit when credit is due.”
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.
Durant led the Warriors with 31 points on 10-of-18 shooting, including a four-for-seven mark from three-point range. Durant added eight rebounds, four assists, one steal and a blocked shot over 41 minutes of action.
In addition to Durant, the Warriors got double-digit production from Curry, who scored 26 points and pulled down 13 rebounds to go along with six assists and two steals, while shooting guard Klay Thompson knocked down six triples on his way to 30 markers.
“Only missed shots,” Cavaliers small forward LeBron James said. “We missed shots. I gave everything that I had, so at times throughout the game, I was tired, but that's just because I was just playing as hard as I could. But I was able to get second and third and fourth winds. I don't contribute as losing this game because we got tired. We missed some shots, and they made some.”
Late in the first quarter, Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue pulled James from the game to get him some rest, and in the two-minute stretch, the Warriors went on a 12-3 run and took a seven-point advantage into the second period.
James sat down for just 34 seconds over the final 36 minutes of play.
“I knew it was going to be a tough game for us,” Lue said. “For us to win, I knew I had to give LeBron at least a two-minute blow in that first quarter because in the second half, he might not get a blow. Kyrie was playing well, the game was on the line, so I decided to stick with those guys, being at home, down 0-2.”