For three quarters, the Cleveland Cavaliers looked to be fully in control. Leading by as many as 20, the Cavs seemed to be dominating every facet of the game. It helped that Steph Curry, the Golden State Warriors' MVP-winning guard, had just three points through that span. The Cavs took control of the game by again pairing a slowed pace with hounding defense and frustrating the Warriors
The game took a sharp turn in the fourth quarter.
The Cavaliers did ultimately hold on to win 96-91 and take a 2-1 series lead, but the win didn't come without some twisting and turning along the way. The Warriors started the third quarter on a 13-2 run and quickly brought the Cavs lead to single digits. Curry, meanwhile, started to play like himself again and ultimately scored the majority of his 27 points in the fourth.
With 2:42 left, the Cavs lead was down to one after - you guessed it - Curry hit a 3-pointer. But the Cavs answered on the other end, as Matthew Dellavedova hit a circus shot in the lane and was fouled. Dellavedova hit the free throw and brought the Cavs lead back to four. On the next Golden State possession, Curry committed the Warriors' first turnover of the fourth quarter.
With 51 seconds, the Cavs found themselves up by nine. The Warriors, however, made another push behind Curry's resurgence and, with 18 seconds left Cleveland led by just three. Here, the Cavs almost lost control of the game in two consecutive moments. First, Iman Shumpert passed the ball directly to the Warriors on the Cavs' inbound, and when Dellavedova made a play on the ball, it appeared that he had either been fouled or turned it over.
The refs first gave the ball the Warriors, citing an inadvertent whistle. But upon a delayed review, the camera showed that Warriors guard Klay Thompson's foot was out of bounds, giving possession back to the Cavs. Mike Miller then inbounded the ball to LeBron, who was fouled and subsequently hit both free throws to give the Cavs its 96-91 lead.
The Warriors were unable to get off a clean look on the other end, and as the buzzer sounded, LeBron again showed his fatigue after playing all but two minutes and seven seconds of the game. He finished with 40 points, 12 rebounds and 8 assists to go along with a 10-of-12 performance from the line. Dellavedova, starting his second straight game in place of an injured Kyrie Irving, had a playoff career high 20 points in 39 minutes.
Game 4 tips off at 9 p.m. on Thursday at Quicken Loans Arena.