The Golden State Warriors tied the NBA Finals at 2-2 with a crucial 103-82 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday in Game Four.
NBA Most Valuable Player Stephen Curry and Andre Iguodala each had 22 points for Golden State as the Warriors breathed new life into their title hopes.
Iguodala, inserted into the starting line-up to boost early scoring and help contain Cavaliers superstar LeBron James, did both as the Warriors pulled even ahead of game five Sunday in Oakland with game six on Tuesday at Cleveland.
“We just wanted to speed up the pace a little bit,” Iguodala said. “We said, ‘Let’s throw a little wrinkle in and see how it works.’”
The Warriors had lost two in a row but avoided their first three-game losing skid of the season, a vital feat given that no team has ever recovered from a 3-1 deficit to win the NBA Finals.
A bloodied James, averaging 41 points in the first three games of the finals, suffered two cuts to the right side of his head after a second-quarter fall and battled leg cramps and fatigue in the second half.
“He’s the best player in the world for a reason,” said Iguodala. “It was a great opportunity to see what we could do.”
The Warriors seek their first crown since 1975 while the Cavaliers are trying to end a 51-year title drought for all Cleveland sports teams since the 1964 NFL Browns, the longest such curse on any US city.
Golden State opened a 63-50 edge in the third quarter before a 20-10 Cleveland run. James scored 10 points and Mozgov added eight in the rally, which ended with a James free throw cutting the Warriors lead to 73-70.
Golden State answered with a 20-7 run, Curry scoring eight points and Iguodala sinking two 3-pointers in the span as the Warriors seized a 93-77 edge with 5:35 to play, too much for the weary Cavaliers to overcome.
“We came out with a lot of speed,” said Iguodala. “It’s hard to keep up with us.”
Russian center Timofey Mozgov led Cleveland with 28 points, his NBA career high, and 10 rebounds while James had 20 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists.