If you were wondering why Golden State sent it four best players to the Hamptons to recruit Kevin Durant two summers ago, Wednesday night in the NBA Finals was Exhibit A.
With the Warriors “Splash Brothers” backcourt in major struggle mode, Durant put up one of the best postseason performances of his career -- and in recent NBA Finals.
Cleveland made an early push to turn Game 3 into a blowout, but Durant’s spectacular shot-making wouldn’t let that happen. And down the stretch, Durant just kept making big shot after big shot.
And with 49 seconds left, Durant delivered points 41, 42 and 43 on a death stare 3-pointer from 5 feet behind the line to seal the game and give Golden State an 110-102 win and what appears to be an insurmountable 3-0 lead in the NBA Finals.
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Durant finished with 43 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists and pretty much put to rest any question about the 2018 Finals MVP. Curry was 3-for-16 and Thompson was 4-for-11, but Durant was so good it didn’t matter.
“The shot clock was running down and I was pretty far out,” Durant said of his game-winning shot on ABC in a postgame interview with Doris Burke. “I didn’t want to run in there and shoot a bad shot...so I decided to shoot it from there and it felt good leaving my hands.”
Kevin Durant’s first half
There really shouldn’t be any argument as to who is the best player for Golden State. Kevin Durant nearly single-handedly kept the Warriors in the game. He had 24 points, eight rebounds in the first half. Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson combined to shoot 3-for-15 in the first half.
Even NBA star Jamal Crawford took notice.
Kevin Love and JR Smith’s first half
One of the themes of these NBA Finals has been that LeBron James hasn’t gotten enough help from his teammates.
At least in the first half, he had plenty. JR Smith played his best basketball of the series, and Kevin Love started looking like All-Star Kevin Love from the Timberwolves. Love had 15 points and 10 rebounds in the first half. Smith had 10 points.
But unlike Durant, Smith and Love didn’t keep it going.
Love finished with 20 points and 13 rebounds, just seven points and three rebounds in the second half. Smith? He had three points in the second half.
James finished with 33 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds, but he seemed tired by the end of the game, had little second half help and the Cavs became the first team in NBA history to go down 3-0 in back-to-back NBA Finals.
Rodney Hood sighting
Remember Rodney Hood, the former Duke star? He was becoming a quality NBA player in Utah. But since being traded to Cleveland in mid-season, he’s been hard to find on the court.
Cleveland coach Ty Lue gave him a chance in Game 3. Hood responded with 15 points and six rebounds. He made 7-of-11 field goal attempts.
LeBron’s Big Early Move
LeBron James made a great play in the first half, throwing the ball of the glass to himself for a massive two-handed dunk. ABC announcer Mark Jackson called it the type of play fans would talk about for years. And maybe it was, but James did the same thing in the 2017 finals.
Here’s Wednesday’s move.
And here is the 2017 move, which was also in Cleveland.