James, Irving explode to keep Cavs alive in NBA Finals

Tue Jun 14, 2016 1:58pm EDT
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By Rory Carroll

OAKLAND, Calif. (Reuters) - LeBron James powered the sharpshooting Cleveland Cavaliers to a season-saving 112-97 win over the defending champion Golden State Warriors on Monday to climb within 3-2 in the best-of-seven NBA Finals.

Cleveland, facing elimination at the hands of the top-seeded Warriors, got 41 points each from James and Kyrie Irving and displayed a tenacious defense to set up another do-or-die game for the Cavaliers on Thursday in Cleveland.

"We are just happy we got another day, that's all we can ask for. We got another day to survive," James, who also had 16 rebounds and seven assists, said after the game.

"We understand this is a great team no matter who is out on the floor for those guys. They are the champions so we've got to be ready."

With their season on the line, the Cavaliers exploded with their best game yet of the NBA Finals as James and Kyrie Irving proved too much for a Warriors team playing without suspended defensive stalwart Draymond Green.

The Cavaliers duo became the first teammates to score at least 40 points in an NBA Finals game.

"They had two great games, two breakout games. We need those two guys to give us confidence early, and they both did that," Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said about James and Irving.

"But I'm just very excited and proud of the way we scrapped and continued to play hard. That's how we've got to play. That's us."   Continued...

Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) shoots the ball against Golden State Warriors forward Harrison Barnes (40) during the second quarter in game five of the NBA Finals at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports