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Kevin Durant’s 43 points shoot Warriors to 3-0 lead over Cavaliers

Warriors forward Kevin Durant is defended by Cavaliers

Warriors forward Kevin Durant is defended by Cavaliers guard George Hill during Game 3 of the NBA Finals on Wednesday in Cleveland. Credit: AP / Carlos Osorio

CLEVELAND — Kevin Durant was a good 10-feet behind the three-point line when he decided to try and deliver the dagger shot in the game’s final minute. He had hit from just about everywhere so it was a hardly a surprise when the ball fell through the net.

But Quicken Loans Arena was in stunned silence.

Durant gave the Warriors a six-point lead with 49.8 seconds left and finished with 43 points to carry Golden State to a 110-102 comeback victory over the Cavaliers in Game 3 of the NBA Finals Wednesday night.

His spectacular performance put the Warriors in a commanding position, up 3-0 on Cleveland in the series. They can capture their second straight title and third in four years with their next victory. Game 4 is here Friday.

“He’s an assassin and that was one of those assassin plays right there,” LeBron James said.

Durant shot 15-for-23 — including 6-for-9 on threes — grabbed 13 rebounds and passed for seven assists. The Warriors needed all of his contributions with Steph Curry and Klay Thompson off for most of the game. They combined to shoot 7-for-27 and score 21 points

“That was amazing what he did out there,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “He was incredible.”

No NBA team has ever come back from an 0-3 deficit so it’s possible that James could be playing his final home game and game as a Cavalier Friday. He can be a free agent this summer, and there already are rumors he will leave for the Lakers, Sixers or Rockets.

This was another disheartening loss for the Cavaliers. Game 1 was also there for their taking.

The Cavs led by 13 in the first half. James finished with another triple-double, but this time he got plenty of offensive help. And this was a night when Curry and Thompson weren’t sharp.

“Holding Steph to 11 points, Klay to 10, you’d think we’d win that game,” Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said.

Curry shot just 3-for-16 and missed his first nine three-pointers. He set an NBA Finals’ record with nine three-pointers in Game 2.

But Curry scored on a layup to give the Warriors the lead for good, 98-97. Curry followed that with his only three-pointer of the night on the next possession to make it a four-point game with 2:38 left.

“As usual he hit a big one,” Kerr said. “He always finds a way to make big plays even on his toughest nights.”

Neither team had led by more than three points in the fourth before Curry’s three-pointer. It was 103-100 when Durant knocked down the shot that put the Cavaliers away.

Durant did the same thing on this floor in Game 3 last year, burying the go-ahead three-pointer from nearly the same spot with 45.3 seconds left to give the Warriors a 3-0 lead. They won that series in five games.

“It was like déjà vu seeing him hit that shot again,” Kevin Love said.

Durant just shrugged it off.

“I don’t really look at these as defining moments,” Durant said. “I don’t want to downplay anything, but I don’t want to act like this is the end of road. I’m just trying to be the best teammate I can be until this thing is over.”

James ended up with 33 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds. Love added 20 and 13 rebounds. Rodney Hood, who hadn’t been in the rotation, scored 15 points off the bench.

But the Cavaliers looked like a team on the mission at the start of the game. Lue said they would be more physical. On the Warriors’ first play, J.R. Smith committed a hard foul on Draymond Green.

Playing aggressively on both ends, the Cavaliers jumped out to a 16-4 lead just 4:03 into the game. The Warriors eventually got going despite Curry having as many fouls as points in the first quarter (two).

Durant got hot, and led Golden State back. He scored 13 points in the quarter that ended with Cleveland up 29-28.

The Cavaliers extended to 50-37 after a Love three-pointer in the second quarter. But the Warriors cut it to 58-52 at halftime as Durant scored nine of their last 15. Durant scored 24 points in the first half. The rest of the Warriors combined for 28.

Curry remained mostly invisible in the third, scoring two points on foul shots. But JaVale McGee gave Golden State a lift and Durant stayed hot. McGee scored eight of Golden State’s first 13 points in the third, helping the Warriors to their first lead of the game.

But Curry hit the second-biggest shot of the night and Durant delivered the dagger — again.

Kevin Durant was a good 10-feet behind the three-point line when he decided to try and deliver the dagger shot in the game’s final minute. He had hit from just about everywhere so it was a hardly a surprise when the ball fell through the net.

But Quicken Loans Arena was in stunned silence.

Durant gave the Warriors a six-point lead with 49.8 seconds left and finished with 43 points to carry Golden State to a 110-102 comeback victory in Game 3 of the NBA Finals.

His spectacular performance put the Warriors in a commanding position, up 3-0 in the series. They can capture their second straight title and third in four years with their next victory. Game 4 is here Friday.

Durant shot 15-for-23 — including 6-for-9 on threes — grabbed 13 rebounds and passed for seven assists.

“That was amazing what he did out there,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “Some of those shots, I don’t think anybody in the world can hit those but him. He was incredible.”

No NBA team has ever come back from an 0-3 deficit so it’s possible LeBron James could be playing his final home game and game as a Cavalier Friday. He can be a free agent this summer, and there already are rumors he will leave for the Lakers, 76ers or Rockets.

This was another disheartening loss for the Cavaliers. Game 1 was also there for their taking.

The Cavs led by 13 in the first half. James finished with another triple-double, but this time he got plenty of offensive help. And this was a night when Steph Curry and Klay Thompson struggled for most of the game. They combined to shoot 7-for-27 and score 21 points.

“Holding Steph to 11 points, Klay to 10, you’d think we’d win that game,” Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said.

Curry shot just 3-for-16 and missed his first nine three-pointers. But he scored on a layup to give the Warriors the lead for good, 98-97. Curry followed that with his only three-pointer of the night on the next possession to make it a four-point game with 2:38 left.

“As usual he hit a big one,” Kerr said. “He always finds a way to make big plays even on his toughest nights.”

Neither team had led by more than three points in the fourth before Curry’s three-pointer. It was 103-100 when Durant knocked down the shot that put the Cavaliers away.

Durant did the same thing on this floor in Game 3 last year, burying the go-ahead three-pointer with 45.3 seconds left.

James ended up with 33 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds. Kevin Love added 20 and 13 rebounds. Rodney Hood, who hadn’t been in the rotation, scored 15 points off the bench.

But the Cavaliers looked like a team on the mission at the start of the game. Lue said they would be more physical. On the Warriors’ first play, J.R. Smith committed a hard foul on Draymond Green.

Playing aggressively on both ends, the Cavaliers jumped out to a 16-4 lead just 4:03 into the game. The Warriors eventually got going despite Curry having as many fouls as points in the first quarter (two).

Durant got hot, and made all four of his shots and free throws, and scored 13 points in the quarter that ended with Cleveland up 29-28.

But the Cavaliers were able to get some separation again in the second quarter, as James got far more help than Durant did. Durant scored 24 points in the first half. The rest of the Warriors combined for 28.

The Cavaliers went ahead 50-37 after a Love three-pointer. He finished the half with 15 points and 10 rebounds. The Warriors cut it to 58-52 at halftime as Durant scored nine of their last 15.

The other Warriors’ All-Stars couldn’t get in any rhythm. Curry shot 1-for-8 in the first half, Thompson was 2-for-7. Both Curry and Green spent the final two-plus minutes of the half on the bench with three fouls.

Curry remained mostly invisible in the third, scoring two points on foul shots. But JaVale McGee gave Golden State a lift and Durant stayed hot. McGee scored eight of Golden State’s first 13 points in the third, helping the Warriors to their first lead of the game.

But Curry hit the second-biggest shot of the night and Durant delivered the dagger.

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