OAKLAND, Calif. - The series was supposed to be over, in the opinion of many. They figured that with point guard Kyrie Irving done for the season with a broken left kneecap, the Cavaliers wouldn't be any match for the high-octane Warriors.
But LeBron James & Co. delivered a message to all those non-believers Sunday night: Pipe down.
Most popular sports stories
James posted his 13th career playoff triple-double and Irving's replacement, Matthew Dellavedova, hit two free throws with 10.1 seconds left in overtime as the Cavs earned a 95-93 win in Game 2 of the best-of-seven series. Game 3 is in Cleveland Tuesday night.
"Our guys love the fact that we've been counted out and come into the series being an underdog," James said after recording 39 points, 16 rebounds and 11 assists in 50:20. "They're pretty much saying that especially after Kyrie got hurt. I think our guys are using that as motivation. I use a little bit of it, but I have a lot of motivation already to just be a part of greatness and be a part of this and be a part of this atmosphere."
Golden State wasted Klay Thompson's playoff-career-high 34 points and didn't have enough offensive firepower with Stephen Curry all bottled up. Curry struggled to crack Cleveland's defensive scheme, shooting 5-for-23 and scoring 19 points.
James said Curry's off night was a direct result of Dellavedova's gritty play. Dellavedova surely affected the league's reigning MVP on a 19-foot jumper with seven seconds left that could've given the Warriors a one-point lead. But it hit nothing but air, and James -- who had 44 points, eight rebounds and six assists in the Warriors' 108-100 OT win in Game 1 -- sank the second of two free throws with 4.4 seconds left to help seal the first NBA Finals victory in Cavaliers history.
Dellavedova was like a gnat, bugging Curry the entire night. "He played hard and stuck to the game plan," said Curry, who missed all four of his shots in OT. "Early in the game, I thought I was a little hesitant when I had an open shot, kind of pausing for a second and then trying to raise up and shoot it, and you just don't get a rhythm that way.''
Cleveland, which coughed up a late lead in the opener, almost let this one slip away, too, thanks in part to a couple of inexplicable fouls and turnovers committed by former Knick J.R. Smith (13 points). James' three-pointer gave the Cavs an 83-72 lead with 3:14 left, but Curry's driving finger roll with 8.5 seconds left tied it at 87 and forced OT.
"I was [ticked]. Most of it, I look at it as my fault," Smith said. "I made a lot of dumb fouls, turnovers, put ourselves in a situation to lose that game. Fortunately we didn't. We were up 11 with 3:15, I think, to go and then I lost focus, and fortunately I had great teammates to help me back."
Golden State took a 93-92 lead on Curry's two free throws with 29.5 seconds left in OT before Dellavedova came through.
"I told you before the game, all that writing off and underdog title and little chances, that's a good thing,'' Cavaliers coach David Blatt said. "This team has nothing on their mind but trying to win the championship. And the fact that Kyrie went down, the fact that Kevin [Love] went down earlier has not changed our resolve in any way, has not caused us to look for some particular break or sympathy, because it's not coming. It hasn't come to us all year. We've dealt with adversity from day one this year. These situations only make us stronger. And I thought the guys played a very heartful game tonight.''
Said Warriors coach Steve Kerr, "Look, this is the Finals. I mean, it's hard. It's supposed to be hard. We had a tough night. So you have to move on. You've got to learn from it and get better. And that's what we're going to do . . . Every series is a little different. It's something you have to work through, look at matchups, look at things you have to adapt to and adjust to, and you've got to continually get better as you go. That's our goal.''