CLEVELAND (AP) — The latest from Game 3 of the NBA Finals:
Kobe Bryant has weighed in on the NBA Finals.
“Cavs playing as if their life is on the line,” Bryant wrote on Twitter after Game 3, getting retweeted more than 10,000 times within the first six minutes of its posting. “G.S playing as if they have more (NBA Finals) down the line.”
The five-time champion from the Los Angeles Lakers ended the tweet with two hashtags, “ThisIsNOW” and “competitionIsEverything.”
LeBron James had another huge game, and addressed what many Cleveland fans are wondering: Can he keep it up.
“I don’t know if I can continue to put up these type of numbers but I know I’ll continue to lead these guys every single night,” James said after the game.
But on Tuesday, he got some help from a suddenly well-known Matthew Dellavedova.
“If there’s a ball on the ground, he’s going to be the first guy on the ground,” James said of Dellavedova. “He showed up multiple times tonight. He’s huge. He’s huge for our team.
“He gives us that grit, that grit that we need. He gives us everything until that tank is empty, and he has a small little reserve tank that he continues to work through.”
LeBron James had 40 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists, and the Cleveland Cavaliers held on for a 96-91 victory over the Golden State Warriors and a 2-1 lead in the NBA Finals.
The Warriors trimmed a 20-point deficit down to one with about 2 1/2 minutes left, but Matthew Dellavedova converted a three-point play, James made a 3-pointer and Tristan Thompson added a free throw for an 88-80 advantage with 1:31 to play.
Stephen Curry’s 3-pointer later trimmed it to 94-91 before James hit two free throws to finish it.
Dellavedova finished with 20 points for the Cavs, who host Game 4 on Thursday.
Curry rebounded from a slow start to finish with 27 points for the Warriors.
Steve Kerr told his team they were too good to hang their heads. And they didn’t.
With a big surge to open the fourth quarter, the Warriors are back in the game.
Down 20 points late in the third, the Warriors opened the fourth with eight straight to trim Cleveland’s lead into single digits, and had it down to a three-point deficit with more than 5 minutes to play.
They are making the run with bench contributions from Andre Iguodala, Leandro Barbosa and David Lee.
Lee hadn’t even played in the first two games of the series.
Steve Kerr is not liking the body language he’s seeing from the Golden State Warriors, as they face a big deficit late in the third quarter.
“Get your heads up,” Kerr said during a time-out. “Every possession matters. Shoot with confidence.”
Later in the same clip aired on ABC, Kerr got animated.
“We’re too good to play like this,” he shouted. “We’re too good to hang our heads. All right? Let’s go!”
Matthew Dellavedova might score more points than Stephen Curry and as many cheers as LeBron James.
The Australian point guard and fan favorite has hit a couple of 3-pointers in the third quarter as the Cavaliers have opened a double-digit lead over the Warriors.
James and Dellavedova had combined for all of Cleveland’s points for the first 5-plus minutes of the period, and Dellavedova’s baskets drew enormous cheers every time.
That’s a season-low in first-half scoring for Golden State, which averages 56 first-half points per game .
But the concerns probably run deeper than that for the Warriors — the first three games of the finals are the first time all season that Golden State has been under 50 points at the break in back-to-back-to-back games.
J.R. Smith can get hot as quickly as anyone, and maybe this is the night it happens.
Smith made two jumpers early in the second quarter, including a 3-pointer, and his first three shots of the game to give him seven points in his first 9 minutes.
He shot poorly in Game 1 and nearly cost the Cavs Game 2 with some boneheaded fouls down the stretch, but with so many injuries he becomes one of their best options to provide a second scorer behind LeBron James.
Unless he loses his stroke or his composure, that is.
Even the King pays homage to other royalty.
Just before tip-off of Game 3, what did LeBron James do? Bowed in respect toward a fan in the jam-packed stands.
That fan just happened to be Cleveland Browns legend Jim Brown.
Then James helped Cleveland jump out to an early first-quarter lead.
This crowd is delirious, and Game 3 hasn’t started.
When the Cavaliers took the floor, 20,000 fans inside Quicken Loans Arena, most of them wearing wine-colored T-shirts, erupted in cheers.
Seconds later, the crowd got even louder when LeBron James, dancing and rapping lyrics, was shown on the giant mid-court scoreboard. That was followed by chants of “Del-ly, Del-ly,” for guard Matthew Dellavedova, one of the Game 2 heroes.
James said earlier in the day that he expected Cleveland’s crowd to be louder than he’s ever heard, and it appears he could be right.
Dwyane Wade is back on ABC to help with the pregame and halftime analysis of Game 3, and he knows LeBron James — his former Miami Heat teammate and still close friend — better than almost anyone.
But James’ raw emotion when Cleveland won Game 2 was something new, even for Wade.
“I’ve been to four Finals with the guy and I’ve never seen him that emotional,” Wade said during Tuesday’s pregame show. “And what I took from that is that he has some sense of ownership. This is his city.”
Wade’s assessment of James’ performance in this series: “Spectacular.”
Golden State’s biggest star, well its cutest one, has arrived.
Riley Curry, the adorable 2-year-old daughter of Warriors guard Stephen Curry, walked into Quicken Loans Arena along with her grandparents about an hour before Game 3 started.
The youngster has stolen the show from her famous daddy by hamming it up during his postgame interview sessions throughout the playoffs.
Biggest game since 1997.
That was the consensus among Cleveland fans, who have waited 51 years for either the Cavaliers, Indians or Browns to win a championship.
The streets outside Quicken Loans Arena were packed with fans in the hours leading up to tip-off for Game 3 as the Cavs hosted their first NBA Finals matchup since 2007, when Cleveland was swept in four games by San Antonio.
This time around, though, Clevelanders are feeling hopeful about the Cavs’ chances of ending a title drought dating to 1964.
“Very confident and excited,” said Sarah Zuercher, who was headed to the game with her husband, Chris, wearing a “Woah Delly” T-shirt to honor pesky guard Matthew Dellavedova.
AP Sports Writer Tom Withers and AP Basketball Writer Tim Reynolds contributed to this report.
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