OAKLAND (AFP) - Steph Curry scored 37 points and the Golden State Warriors moved to the brink of their first NBA crown since 1975 by defeating Cleveland 104-91 on Sunday in the NBA Finals.
Golden State seized a 3-2 edge in the best-of-seven series and can end a 40-year title drought with a victory in game six on Tuesday at Cleveland.
"I hope on Tuesday we can hold that trophy," Curry said. "That's all I want to do." NBA Most Valuable Player Curry scored 17 points in the fourth quarter, 12 of them in a 19-5 run over the final minutes that decided the outcome.
Cleveland superstar LeBron James had 40 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists to join Magic Johnson as the only NBA players with triple doubles in multiple games of multiple NBA Finals, but his heroics were not enough for the Cavaliers, who must win Tuesday to force a game seven Thursday.
James-led teams in a 2-2 playoff series had not lost a game five since his Miami squad fell to Dallas in the 2011 NBA Finals. That's also the last time his team dropped a playoff series after splitting the first four games.
Teams that have won game five of a deadlocked finals have won the title in 20 of 28 tries.
A 13-4 run to close the third quarter put Golden State ahead 73-67, but James and Iman Shumpert sank back-to-back 3-pointers to lift Cleveland level at 75-75 with 9:34 remaining.
Curry and James exchanged baskets, then James answered two Curry free throws with a long 3-point shot to put the Cavaliers ahead 80-79. Curry and Klay Thompson replied with consecutive 3-pointers but James and Tristan Thompson responded to pull Cleveland within 85-84.
Golden State then seized command with the critical run, Curry sinking two 3-pointers and four free throws while Andre Iguodala added six points in the decisive spurt.
"What I'm excited about is I think our team can play a lot better," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said.
Draymond Green added 16 points and nine rebounds for Golden State, which had 14 points, eight rebounds and seven assists from Iguodala. Leandro Barbosa came off the bench to score 13 points.
Tristan Thompson had 19 points and 10 rebounds for Cleveland, which also had 14 points from reserve J.R. Smith.
Golden State jumped ahead 8-2 as the Cavaliers started by shooting 1-of-8 with four turnovers, but that's when Cleveland inserted Smith for Russian center Timofey Mozgov.
Smith went 0-for-8 from 3-point range in game four, the second-most attempts without making any in an NBA Finals game, but bounced back by hitting his first two 3-point tries to ignite a 15-8 Cleveland run. James also had six points in the spurt, which ended with Shumpert's 3-pointer giving the Cavaliers their first lead at 17-16.
Smith made two 3-pointers early in the second quarter to launch a 12-6 run for a 37-30 Cavs lead, but Barbosa had five points in an 8-0 Warriors run for a 44-42 edge and the clubs traded the lead until a 3-point play by Harrison Barnes three seconds before half-time put Golden State ahead 51-50.
James had 20 points, eight rebounds and eight assists in the first half while Smith added 14 first-half points on 4-of-9 3-point shooting.
The Warriors could be the first team since Chicago in 1991 to win an NBA Finals without a player who previously appeared in a title series.
And Kerr, who won five NBA titles as a player, could become the first rookie NBA coach to win the title since Pat Riley with the Los Angeles Lakers in 1982.