OAKLAND, California — Kyrie Irving stalled a Golden State Warriors comeback with seven consecutive points midway through the fourth quarter Monday night, propelling the Cleveland Cavaliers to a 112-97 victory in Game 5 of the NBA Finals that kept the Eastern Conference champs alive in the best-of-seven series.
The series returns to Cleveland for Game 6 on Thursday night, with Golden State retaining a 3-2 advantage.
Irving and LeBron James bombed in 41 points apiece as the Cavaliers took advantage of the absence of Warriors defensive standout Draymond Green, who was serving a one-game suspension.
Green is eligible to return for Game 6, but the Warriors might find themselves without another of their top defenders, Andrew Bogut. The veteran center sustained a knee injury in the third quarter Monday night and couldn’t return to the game.
His status for the rest of the series will be determined in the three days leading up to Game 6.
Game 7, if necessary, would be played Sunday in Oakland.
After trailing by as many as seven in the first quarter, the Cavaliers broke from a 61-all halftime tie to build as much as an 11-point third-quarter advantage.
The lead was still 102-92 after Irving converted a three-point play with 7:30 to go, before Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry dropped in consecutive hoops to get the defending champs back within six.
Irving then took over the game, hitting on a drive, a short jumper and a 3-pointer in a personal 7-0 flurry that broke the game open at 109-96 with 5:30 remaining.
The Warriors never challenged after that.
Irving’s 41 points came on 17-for-24 shooting as the Cavaliers, who were limited to 43.6 percent shooting through four games, scorched the nets at a 53 percent pace in Game 5.
Irving also hit five of his seven 3-point attempts as Cleveland helped itself with a 10-for-24 night from beyond the arc.
The Cavaliers outshot the Warriors badly in both areas. Golden State made just 36.4 percent of its shots overall and just 14 of 42 3-point tries (33.3 percent).
James was equally as productive as Irving, if not as efficient. His 41 points were the product of 16-for-30 shooting, including four of eight on 3-pointers.
James also had a game-high 16 rebounds, and Tristan Thompson added 15 boards to complement six points.
Klay Thompson had 37 points and Curry 25 for the Warriors, who wrapped up last year’s championship at their first opportunity in Game 6 in Cleveland.
Each scored a majority of hits points on 3-pointers, Klay Thompson making six and Curry five.
Andre Iguodala, who started in Green’s place, added 15 points and a team-high 11 rebounds.
Green, the runner-up in the Defensive Player of the Year balloting, missed only one regular-season game, and the Warriors also lost that one, 112-110 at Denver on Jan. 13.
Bogut’s injury occurred at the 10:07 mark of the third quarter when Irving crashed awkwardly into his lower leg.
After several minutes on the floor, the 7-footer had to be helped to the locker room.
The Cavaliers took advantage of shot-blocker’s absence. They hit 15 of their 27 shots in the third period to go up by as many as 11 en route to a 93-84 advantage at quarter’s end.
James and Irving did a majority of the scoring, combining for 13 and 11 points, respectively, in the period. James hit six of 11 from the field in the quarter, Irving five of six.
A high-scoring first half featured 12 lead changes and eight ties, including one at 61-all at the intermission.
Klay Thompson had 26 in the half, 18 coming on 3-pointers. The Warriors had made 11 threes and just nine 2-pointers through two periods.
James and Irving, combining to shoot 18-for-28, had 25 and 18 points, respectively, in the half.
The Cavaliers trailed by as many as seven early in the first quarter and were down 32-29 at period’s end, due mainly to eight turnovers in the first 12 minutes.
Curry and Klay Thompson had two 3-pointers apiece and the Warriors five in all in the first quarter, but it took them 13 tries to get them. Golden State shot just 42.3 percent in the period, far off the Cavaliers’ 52.6 percent pace.
NOTES: Teams leading 3-1 in the NBA Finals are now 17-16 in potential series-clinching Game 5s. … Warriors SF Andre Iguodala and Cavaliers PF Kevin Love were named last-minute starters Monday. … Warriors coach Steve Kerr took time before the game to complain that he couldn’t give suspended PF Draymond Green’s spot on the active roster to another player. “It’s a rule I’d like to see the league change,” he said of having to designate PG Ian Clark as inactive. … The Cavaliers were 13-0 this postseason when scoring 100 or more points coming in. They reached triple digits once in the first four Finals games, after scoring 100 once in last year’s Finals. … Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue insisted he didn’t fear a fired-up Warriors team in wake of Green’s suspension. “I don’t care about Golden State,” Lue said. “I mean, we’ve got a fire lit, too.”