Stephen Curry nearly shot the Golden State Warriors from way behind into the lead in the NBA Finals.
The Warriors’ comeback fell short and the Cleveland Cavaliers held on for a 96-91 victory Tuesday night and a 2-1 edge in the series.
Golden State trailed by 17 points after three dreadful quarters, but rang up a 36-point fourth to get all the way within one point in the final 3 minutes.
Curry struggled early after his dismal Game 2, but had 17 of his 27 points in the fourth quarter, making five of his seven 3-pointers.
One of them cut what had been a 20-point deficit to 81-80, and his final three gave the Warriors their last bit of hope when it brought them to 94-91.
They couldn’t pull out the victory but may have found an answer to some of their problems by inserting David Lee into the rotation. Lee, a former All-Star who didn’t even play in the first two games, made all four shots and scored 11 points, including nine in the fourth quarter to help spark the rally.
The Warriors are down 2-1 in a series for the second time this postseason. They didn’t lose another game in the Western Conference semifinals against Memphis, and will hope their strong finish Tuesday will carry over into Game 4 here on Thursday.
Particularly for Curry, the MVP who shot just 5 of 23 in Game 2, including 2 of 15 from 3-point range. That brought out talk of a slump, questions about the tough defense being played on him by Matthew Dellavedova, and even some concern he was perhaps still hurting or shaken after his scary fall against Houston during the West finals.
But he ended up 10 of 20 in this one, going 7 of 13 behind the arc, and also added six rebounds and six assists.
The Warriors still have concerns. They averaged an NBA-best 110 points during their 67-win season but are struggling just to crack 90 against the Cavaliers. Starting forward Harrison Barnes missed all eight shots and Draymond Green was only 2 for 10.
Still, they nearly pulled out a comeback that would have rivaled the one against New Orleans in Game 3 of the first round, when the Warriors trailed by 20 entering the fourth quarter but won it in overtime after Curry’s 3-pointer in the closing seconds of regulation.
This time, he could only get them close.