NBA Finals: Cleveland Cavaliers clobber Golden State Warriors 115-101, force Game 7 showdown

Kyrie Irving (right) of the Cleveland Cavaliers in action against Draymond Green of the Golden State Warriors.
Kyrie Irving (right) of the Cleveland Cavaliers in action against Draymond Green of the Golden State Warriors.PHOTO: AFP

CLEVELAND - In what will go down in NBA history as one of his greatest performances ever, LeBron James led the Cleveland Cavaliers to a second straight victory over the Golden State Warriors 115-101 to force a Game 7 showdown in Oakland on Sunday night.

James scored 41 points to lead all scorers, and added 11 rebounds, enabling the Cavaliers to pull away in the closing minutes after Golden State narrowed the lead to just eight points. Team-mate Kyrie Irving contributed 25 points.

Led by several of their trademark three-pointers as the third quarter came to an end, Golden State trimmed the lead of the Cleveland Cavaliers to 80-71.

Despite the return of controversial forward Draymond Green to the Warriors line-up, the Cavaliers used an explosive first half to lead by as many as 22 points, setting the tone and never allowing the usually sharp-shooting Warriors to settle into a rhythm.

The Cavaliers built a 24-point lead in the third quarter but the Warriors finally closed out the quarter on a 10-0 run to pull within nine points.

Stephen Curry had 30 points for the Warriors, but was ejected from the game with 4min 22sec left, after he was called for his sixth personal foul, cursed at an official and threw his mouthpiece into the front row, striking a fan.

Before the game, James had called Game 7 "the two best words ever". He'll live them once more, thanks to his spell-binding effort: He had a hand in 27 consecutive points in the second half.

After falling behind 2-0 in the series, the Cavs were left for dead by many impartial observers who expected the Warriors to run away with the series, some even calling for a four-game sweep.

But after splitting the next two games, the resurgent Cavs used a sparkling Game 5 performance to shift momentum in their favour and, perhaps, place a seed of doubt in the minds of the Warriors.

The Cavaliers are now just the third team to force a Game 7 after falling behind 3-1, joining the 1951 New York Knicks and the 1966 Los Angeles Lakers.

With the win, the Cavaliers also kept alive their quest for a maiden NBA title that would be Cleveland's first professional sports championship since the 1964 Cleveland Browns of the National Football League.