OAKLAND, Calif. - As great as these NBA Finals have been, it was missing one game when league MVP Steph Curry and best player on the planet LeBron James raised the levels of their play and everyone around them on the same night.
It happened in Game 5 on Sunday night as Curry and James played brilliantly, and tried to will their teams to the victory. Curry was successful in his quest. He scored 37 points, and help put the Warriors one win from their first championship in 40 years.
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The Warriors withstood James' 40-point game and triple-double and handed the Cavaliers a 104-91 loss at Oracle Arena. Golden State leads the series 3-2 and can close it out in Game 6 on Tuesday in Cleveland. If there is a Game 7, it would be back here Friday night.StatsGame 5 boxscore
"We're not getting ahead of ourselves," Curry said. "In the locker room, it was the exact same after a regular-season win. But we know the sense of urgency of the moment."
Curry had his best game of the series at the perfect time. He scored 17 points in the fourth quarter. Curry tallied 15 after a James three-pointer gave the Cavaliers a one-point lead with 7:47 to go. He shot 13-for-23, including 7-for-13 from three, and was treated for dehydration after the game.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr envisioned it after the Cavaliers matched down to Golden State and played small for most of the night.
"I thought, 'This is Steph's night,' " Kerr said. "This is going to be a big one for him because he has all that room. He took over the game down the stretch and was fantastic."
Andre Iguodala made some big baskets in the fourth, and had 14 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. The Warriors also outhustled the Cavaliers late. They outrebounded Cleveland 14-7 in the fourth, including two offensive boards on missed free throws on the same possession.
James played 45 minutes, and had his second triple-double of the series: 40 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists. James shot 15-for-34 from the field. He can't do much more, but he said he had to or else.
"We don't want them celebrating at all, whether it's on our home floor or their own floor," James said. "I feel confident."
Tristan Thompson scored 19 and J.R. Smith, who sparked the Cavaliers in the first half, had 14, all of them before halftime. Smith shot 4-for-14 from three, but missed his last seven from deep. He was 0-for-8 from three in Game 4.
It was a tight game in the fourth when both superstars tried to put their teams on their backs.
James gave the Cavaliers their last lead of the night on a long three-pointer. On the Warriors' next possession, Curry drilled a step-back three. Then after James missed, Klay Thompson, who has been mostly quiet this series, nailed a long three-pointer to give Golden State an 85-80 lead.
The Cavaliers had a chance to tie with 4:20 left, but James missed inside. Iguodala scored the next five points on a three-pointer and tough double-clutch to make it 91-84 with 3:45 left.
Then Curry took over. He scored on a drive to the basket, and gave the Warriors a 96-86 lead with a three-pointer with 2:44 left. Curry crossed over Matthew Dellavedova twice, dribbling once behind his back and then in front before stepping back and hitting the three.
After that, the Cavaliers resorted to intentionally fouling Iguodala. It was effective. He shot 1-for-6 from the line. But in that time, the Cavaliers made just one basket, a three by James.
With the score 97-89, Curry put it away with another three-pointer with 1:22 remaining.
"Not a lot you can do, honestly," Cavs coach David Blatt said. "He made some terrific shots."