Cavaliers bounce back!

LeBron-inspired Cleveland rout Warriors; Finals poised at 2-1.

Cleveland: Smothering defensive work and an aggressive scoring attack inspired by LeBron James lifted the Cleveland Cavaliers back into the NBA Finals on Wednesday with a 120-90 rout of defending champion Golden State. James scored 32 points, grabbed 11 rebounds and added six assists while Kyrie Irving netted 30 points, 16 in the first quarter, and had eight assists after producing only 10 points in a 110-77 loss in Game Two.

“My teammates got me going. They told me to be aggressive and that’s what I was,” James said. “It was just a collective team win.” But Irving noted how an emotional James told his teammates in a pre-game huddle to “Follow my lead,” and that motivated the Cavaliers, who scored the first nine points, jumped ahead 19-4 and 33-14 and never trailed in the romp.

“Our leader is looking us all eye to eye and telling us, ‘Let’s go to war,’” Irving said. “Just realising the magnitude of what’s about to happen, going out there and battling, understanding that we’re being led by a great player.” Despite the humbling defeat, the Warriors remain ahead 2-1 in the best-of-seven series with game four Friday at Cleveland and game five back in Oakland on Monday.

“They came out and played like a team with a sense of desperation, like their season was on the line. And we came out and played like everything was peaches and cream,” Golden State’s Draymond Green said. “We got bullied. We can’t get bullied.” Only three teams in 69 prior NBA Finals have rallied from 0-2 down to win the title, but no team trailing 0-3 has ever won an NBA playoff series.

Playing without forward Kevin Love, sidelined by a concussion suffered in Game Two, the Cavaliers shifted James to power forward and used pressure defense to ignite scoring. Never before in NBA Finals history had a team won by 30 or more only to lose the next game by 30 or more, but that’s what the Warriors did. James was so aggressive that he swatted away a Steph Curry shot after a whistle.

J.R. Smith added 20 points while Tristan Thompson contributed 14 points and 13 rebounds for the Cavaliers, who improved to 8-0 at home in the playoffs and snapped a seven-game losing streak to the Warriors. NBA MVP and scoring champion Curry managed only two points in the first half and finished with 19.

( Source : AFP )
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