“I tried to give it all to my team-mates,” James told media after the game. “And they do a great job of giving it back to me. Total team effort. To be back in the same position we were in three days ago and to come back and even the series is big time.’”
James was indeed helped along to victory by his teammates, in particular Matthew Dellavedova, who hit two free throws with but 10 seconds on the clock to win it for the Cavs.
The game was tied at the end of the first quarter and Cleveland was up 47-45 at the half. The Cavs went into the fourth quarter up by three but Golden State tied it up late. Klay Thompson lead the Warriors with 34 points.
In the first game of the series at Oakland’s Oracle Arena, James drained 44 points, his biggest output in an NBA final game, that coming after playing in four finals with the Miami Heat, winning two, and one final with Cleveland before he signed with Miami (a loss in 2007).
But those 44 points on that night weren’t enough as he tired in the overtime — he played 45-and-a-half minutes in that game — and his team fizzled, losing 108-100. This time though, James kept it up throughout and finished with a triple double, 39 points, 16 rebounds and 11 assists. He hit on 11 of his 35 shots from the floor and played over 50 minutes.
Cleveland won despite playing without Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving, both out for the remainder of the season. Love dislocated his shoulder in the series with Boston while Irving, who had been playing hurt, broke his kneecap in game one of the finals.
It was the first win in an NBA final in the history of the Cleveland Cavalier franchise. In their only other appearance in a final, that loss in 2007, they were swept, 4-0, by the San Antonio Spurs. The series now shifts to Cleveland for two games, the first on Tuesday.