CLEVELAND — Stephen Curry broke out of his funk with 38 points and Klay Thompson scored 25 to lead the Golden State Warriors to a 108-97 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday night in Game 4 of the NBA Finals.
The Warriors took a commanding 3-1 lead in the series and can wrap up their second title in as many seasons against the Cavs on Monday night at Oracle Arena.
It was Cleveland’s first postseason loss at home after winning its first eight.
Curry and Thompson strung together their best joint performance of the series and the Cavs countered by dribbling their way to the brink of extinction.
Irving and James took turns dribbling through more isolation sets in the second half, particularly the fourth quarter, with little success. They went nearly seven minutes between baskets in the fourth, and the Warriors countered with Harrison Barnes’ fourth 3-pointer of the game to stretch the lead to 93-84 — their largest of the night — with 5:56 left.
The Cavs were 9 of 21 from the field in the fourth quarter.
Irving finished with 34 points but was 3 of 10 in the fourth quarter. James had 25 points, 13 rebounds, nine assists and seven turnovers, falling an assist shy of his 16th postseason triple-double and seventh in his Finals career.
Tempers flared in the final minutes when Golden State forward Draymond Green fell down and James tried stepping over his head as Green stood up. Players had to be separated and a double foul was called.
Play was halted a few minutes later when a shirtless fan ran on the court and was apprehended by a slew of security guards.
Curry and Thompson caught fire in the third quarter when they combined for 21 of the Warriors’ 29 points to turn a five-point halftime deficit into a 79-77 lead entering the fourth. It was Curry’s first 20-point game of the series.
Coach Tyronn Lue made the gutsy call to bench Love, his $110 million power forward, and stick with the starting lineup that worked so well together in a 120-90 win in Game 3 on Wednesday night.
Love replaced Tristan Thompson seven minutes into the game and made his first shot off an offensive rebound — a theme throughout the first half. The Cavs grabbed 10 offensive rebounds in the first half and turned them into 17 second-chance points.
Tristan Thompson had half of those offensive rebounds in the half and the Cavs led 55-50 at the break.
Love had 11 points and five rebounds off the bench, J.R. Smith scored 10 points and Thompson finished with 10 points and seven rebounds.
Barnes scored 14 points for the Warriors, Green had nine points and 12 rebounds and Andre Iguodala contributed 10 points, seven assists and six rebounds off the bench.
Now the Cavs face the daunting task of having to beat the Warriors three straight times. Golden State hasn’t lost three straight all season.
NOTES: This marked Kevin Love’s first game off the bench since April 14, 2010 — the final game of his second season in the NBA. Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said the most important issue when making lineup changes is to be truthful with players. “They might not like it at the time, but I’ve always learned in this business if you tell the truth, guys understand and they know what the truth is,” Lue said. “They might be mad for a second, but they can always get back to understanding and realize that’s the right thing. And if you tell the truth, guys can respect that.” … LeBron James (1,723) is two rebounds shy of passing Elgin Baylor for ninth place on the NBA’s career playoff rebound list. … Warriors coach Steve Kerr likes the consistency that Harrison Barnes has provided throughout the postseason. “He’s been there every game,” Kerr said. “He plays big minutes for us at multiple positions, so while his stats may not jump out at you, the versatility that he provides us is important.”