LeBron James had 41 points, 16 rebounds and seven assists, Kyrie Irving also scored 41 points and the Cleveland Cavaliers capitalized on the Warriors playing without suspended star Draymond Green, staving off NBA Finals elimination with a 112-97 victory in Game 5 on Monday night.
James and Irving became the first teammates to score 40 points in an NBA Finals game as the Cavaliers pulled within 3-2 and sent their best-of-seven series back to Ohio.
Take that, haters. James had much more to say about these playoffs before he’s done – and not with his mouth, even as the criticism came from all directions following his Game 4 tussle with Green and reaction to what he considered the Golden State forward’s inappropriate words. He was booed again as the Cavs left the court for their locker room, but thousands of fans had already made for the exits minutes earlier.
The Cavs handed defending champion Golden State just its fourth defeat at sold-out Oracle Arena all season, denying MVP Stephen Curry and the Warriors a chance to celebrate a second straight title with their golden-clad “Strength In Numbers” supporters. Now, Curry and Co. must try to win on the road just the way the Warriors did last year and also in their only other championship season out West in 1975.
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The Warriors will get Green back Thursday as they try again for that repeat title.
Banned from the arena, Green watched from a baseball suite in the Oakland Coliseum next door, joined by Golden State general manager Bob Myers.
The All-Star forward was suspended Sunday for his fourth flagrant point of the postseason. He was assessed a retroactive Flagrant-1 for his swipe at James in the fourth quarter of Friday’s Game 4.
Because of the late start of Monday night’s game, the final score is not available in today’s paper. Go to Bradenton.com/Sports to see the final score of the game.