CLEVELAND — The Golden State Warriors took the Cleveland Cavaliers’ best punch in Game 4 on Friday. It was significant.
LeBron James earned the title of having the most triple-doubles in the NBA Finals by scoring 31, grabbing 10 boards and throwing 11 assists. And, for the first time in this set, his teammates supported him as the Cavs won, 137-116.
For the game, Cleveland shot 53 percent on 45 attempts from beyond the arc. Kyrie Irving netted 37 points and the Warriors weren’t able to overcome a slow start in a game that featured six technical fouls and a flagrant.
The Cavs weren’t ready to lie down and call it a season through the first half of the game.
In the first quarter, they did everything they failed during the first three games of the series: Tristan Thompson wasn’t a stiff, Stephen Curry was rendered a non-factor (he wouldn’t hit his first field goal with 6:38 remaining in the second), and they limited their turnovers.
Combine that with being gifted 11 more free throws than the Warriors and Cleveland emerged from the opening period with a 49 points and a 16-point lead.
That portended a rough night for Golden State. According to ESPN Stats & Info, teams with a 15-point advantage after the opening period in the NBA Finals were 16-1 before Friday.
During that span, Dubs defenders regularly got lost after switching on screens, leaving Cavs shooters open on the perimeter. As opposed to earlier games in the Finals, those gunners converted their attempts. In the first half, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love and JR Smith combined to shoot 11-for-16 from deep.
Their lead remained in the teens for most of the second quarter as James and Irving alternated slashing through the Warriors defense. James went into halftime with a line (22 points, 6 rebounds, 8 assists) that would be great had he played a full game. Irving had 28 points and the Cavs had a 86-68 lead.
The Warriors weren’t able to make a serious dent in that deficit in the third quarter, but there was plenty of excitement on the floor.
There was an altercation between Durant and LeBron that ended in a double technical. A police officer rushed onto the floor toward the scene and was redirected by referee Marc Davis before he could get there. The two superstars shared some more words after the break and slapped hands, signalling there was no significant beef.
Moments later with 6:18 remaining in the third quarter, Green was seemingly ejected for receiving his second tech of the contest. He waved at the official after being whistled for a common foul and it didn’t look like he said anything. Green then encouraged the crowd to cheer his demise before the referees met and decided to let him stay on the floor.
But, when Green received his first tech in the first half, the officials apparently had called it on Kerr, although everyone else in the building had thought it was on Green.
Later in the period, Zaza Pachulia and Kyle Korver got tied up on the floor trying to claim possession of the ball. Iman Shumpert stood over Pachulia for an extended moment after the whistle and the Warriors big man took a shot at the Cleveland guard’s groin. Both players involved received a T.
Zaza Pachulia and Iman Shumpert get into it 👀pic.twitter.com/6SbAiuu6my
— Def Pen Hoops (@DefPenHoops) June 10, 2017
Golden State claimed some momentum to begin the fourth, cutting the Cavaliers lead to 11 before Irving went on a 5-0 run. When James hit a stepback jumper with 7:01 remaining, their lead was back to 19 and the game was all but over.Cleveland CavaliersGolden State WarriorsKevin DurantKyrie IrvingLeBron JamesNBANBA FinalsNBA PlayoffsStephen CurrySteve Kerrtyronn lue