Cavs' offensive explosion in Game 4 sends series back to Oakland

CLEVELAND — LeBron James threw an alley-oop off the backboard to himself. James and Kevin Durant had to be separated by team personnel at center court. Draymond Green picked up a technical foul and was immediately admonished by a screaming Mike Brown. Deron Williams actually scored a bucket. Zaza Pachulia struck Iman Shumpert in the groin. Matt Barnes got into an argument with a fan sitting courtside and the fan, who happens to be friends with James, was escorted from his seat by security.

And all that was just in the third quarter.

The Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors locked horns in an explosive Game 4 on Friday and Cleveland made the first step towards turning the highly-anticipated NBA Finals “Threematch” into a series worth the hype with a 137-116win to draw within 3-1.

Yup, basketball fans, Cleveland trails Golden State in the Finals 3-1. How about that?

Before the basketball turned into a variety act with all sorts of extra-curricular shenanigans after halftime, the Cavs played some of the best ball ever played in the championship round.

What would this series have looked like through the first three games if the Cleveland Cavaliers shot the ball from three the way they had all season?

That’s the question the Cavs asked themselves in the days leading up to Game 4 after falling down 3-0 to the explosive Golden State Warriors while wilting away from the outside.

On Friday, the shots fell early and often and the Cleveland fans in Quicken Loans Arena barely sat in their seats all night, cheering on as they hoped they weren’t seeing the last home game for the Cavs of 2017.

The Cavs scored 49 points in the first quarter – setting a new Finals record for most points in any quarter – and hit 7-for-12 on 3-pointers while pouring it on.

They kept it up in the second quarter, taking an 86-68 lead into halftime as their 3-pointers continued to find the bottom of the net, scoring the most points in a half and accounting for the most made 3s in a half in Finals history (13-for-22).

James logged a triple-double – 31 points, 10 rebounds, 11 assists – to overtake Magic Johnson for the most triple-doubles in Finals history with nine. He also passed Michael Jordan for third on the all-time Finals scoring list with his first basket in the first quarter.

Kyrie Irving led all scorers with 40 points on 15-for-27 shooting. Kevin Love pumped in 23 points. Tristan Thompson had nearly as many rebounds in Game 4 (10) as he had in Games 1-3 combined (11). J.R. Smith kept up his hot shooting in Game 3 with another strong night (15 points, including five 3s).

Kevin Durant led Golden State with 35 points but shot just 9-for-22.

By the end of it, the Cavs set a record for most 3s in a Finals game, going 24-for-45 (53.3 percent). This after combining to go 31-for-104 from 3 in Games 1-3.

“They’re a great team, but I think we’re a great team also,” Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said of his troops after they failed to protect a late six-point lead Wednesday.

The final three minutes of Game 4 didn’t have nearly the same drama, as Cleveland put in its subs for garbage time in a night they led by as many as 22 points.

Fans chanted a “Cavs in 7!” cheer to end the night.

If Cleveland can keep this type of play up, that cheer might not be so crazy.

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