Going back to Cali: LeBron, Cavs down Warriors, force Game 7

CLEVELAND (AP) — LeBron James scored 41 points, Kyrie Irving added 23 and the Cleveland Cavaliers sent the NBA Finals packing for California by beating the rattled Golden State Warriors 115-101 on Thursday night to even this unpredictable series and force a decisive Game 7.

James delivered another epic performance in an elimination game and the Cavs saved their season for the second time in four days and are headed back to Oakland’s Oracle Arena for Sunday’s climactic game on the brink of history.

One more win and they’ll become the first team to overcome a 3-1 deficit in the NBA Finals, and more importantly, give title-starved Cleveland its first major sports championship since Dec. 27, 1964.

The Warriors never imagined being in this spot. The defending champions, who powered their way to a record 73 wins in the regular season, won the first two games by 48 combined points. But MVP Stephen Curry and Co. have lost their touch, their poise and are in danger of their historic season — and a second title — vanish.

Curry was ejected from Game 6 with 4:22 left after he was called for his sixth personal foul, cursed at an official and fired his mouthpiece into the front row, striking a fan. Curry finished with 30 points, Klay Thompson had 25 and Draymond Green, back from a one-game suspension, had 10 rebounds.

On Wednesday, James called Game 7, “the two best words ever.”

He’ll live them once more, thanks to his spell-binding effort — he had a hand in 27 consecutive points in the second half — and put away the Warriors after they closed a 24-point deficit to seven in the final period. James scored 14 points in the fourth before checking out to a thunderous ovation in the final minutes as Cleveland fans chanted, “Cavs in 7!” and “See you Sunday!”

GOLDEN STATE (101)

Barnes 0-8 0-0 0, Iguodala 2-5 0-2 5, Green 3-7 2-2 8, Curry 8-20 8-9 30, K.Thompson 9-21 4-7 25, McAdoo 1-1 0-0 2, Ezeli 2-5 0-0 4, Varejao 0-0 0-0 0, Speights 2-2 0-0 6, Livingston 1-6 1-2 3, Barbosa 4-6 4-5 14, Clark 1-1 0-0 3, Rush 0-0 1-2 1. Totals 33-82 20-29 101.

CLEVELAND (115)

James 16-27 6-8 41, Love 1-3 4-6 7, T.Thompson 6-6 3-4 15, Irving 7-18 7-7 23, Smith 5-11 0-0 14, Jefferson 1-3 1-2 3, J.Jones 0-1 0-0 0, Mozgov 0-1 0-0 0, Williams 2-2 0-0 4, Dellavedova 1-2 1-2 3, D.Jones 1-1 3-3 5, Shumpert 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 40-77 25-32 115.

Golden State 11 32 28 30—101
Cleveland 31 28 21 35—115

3-Point Goals_Golden State 15-39 (Curry 6-13, K.Thompson 3-10, Speights 2-2, Barbosa 2-3, Clark 1-1, Iguodala 1-3, Green 0-2, Barnes 0-5), Cleveland 10-27 (Smith 4-10, James 3-6, Irving 2-5, Love 1-2, Jefferson 0-1, J.Jones 0-1, Shumpert 0-2). Fouled Out_Curry. Rebounds_Golden State 35 (Green 10), Cleveland 45 (T.Thompson 16). Assists_Golden State 19 (Green 6), Cleveland 24 (James 11). Total Fouls_Golden State 25, Cleveland 25. Technicals_Curry. A_0 (20,562).

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