Cavaliers Defeat Warriors 96-91 to Take 2-1 Lead in NBA Finals

LeBron James
LeBron James, right, shoots against Stephen Curry during Game 3 of the NBA Finals. Photographer: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers withstood a furious Golden State fourth-quarter rally to win 96-91 Tuesday and take a two-games-to-one NBA Finals lead.

The Warriors opened the fourth quarter with a 21-7 run to pull within three points after trailing by 17 starting the final period, and got within a point at 81-80 with 2 1/2 minutes remaining.

But Matthew Dellavedova responded with a three-point play and James then hit a 3-pointer to give the Cavs some breathing room.

“We got some learning to do,” James said in a televised interview. “The best teacher in life is experience, and that last minute and a half we have a lot to learn from.”

James led the Cavs with 40 points and Dellavedova, filling in again for the injured Kyrie Irving, added 20 points while playing smothering defense on Stephen Curry.

Curry, the National Basketball Association’s Most Valuable Player this season, had 17 of his 27 points in the fourth quarter.

James, who added 12 rebounds and eight assists, set an NBA Finals record for the most points in the first three games of a championship series with 123 -- surpassing the mark of 122 set by Rick Barry for the Warriors in 1967.

“I thought he played a terrific game,” Cavaliers coach David Blatt said in a news conference. “I thought he controlled the game.”

Game 4 is set for Thursday at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, where the Cavaliers have won 27 of their last 29 games.

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