CLEVELAND (Ohio) • It was a year ago that Kevin Durant buried a three-pointer over LeBron James in the final minute of Game 3 of the National Basketball Association (NBA) Finals inside Quicken Loans Arena to push Golden State to within one win of the 2017 title.
A year later in another Game 3 of the NBA Finals, that history repeated, only this time it was slightly further beyond the arc.
"It was like deja vu, seeing him hit that shot again," Cleveland's Kevin Love, who had 20 points, said.
That last dagger from Durant pushed him to a play-off career-high 43 points - going 15 for 23 from the field, along with 13 rebounds and seven assists - to lift the Warriors to a 110-102 victory over the Cavaliers and a 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.
Durant, the reigning NBA Finals Most Valuable Player (MVP), has the Warriors on the precipice of a second straight championship and third in four years. Game 4 is today (tomorrow morning, Singapore time).
"That was amazing what he did out there tonight," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. "Some of those shots, I don't think anybody in the world can hit those but him. He was incredible."
2017 NBA FINAL GAME 3
Kevin Durant's late three-pointer gave Golden State the lead, 114-113.
2018 NBA FINALS GAME 3
Durant's late three-pointer extends Golden State's lead to 106-100.
Durant needed to be because the Warriors, a team blessed with a pair of former MVPs on their roster, got very little from their other one - Stephen Curry.
After lighting the Cavs up in Games 1 and 2 in Oakland, Curry was three for 16 from the floor on Wednesday, scoring only 11 points.
Yet it was his lay-up with 2min 58sec left, followed by a three-pointer on the ensuing possession, that gave Golden State the lead back for good - and set the stage for Durant to hit his devastating jumper over J.R. Smith.
"I just tried to play hard defence, rebound as best as I could, to be aggressive and be patient and play with poise," Durant said.
The three-pointer, which he took from 10m with the shot clock winding down, made it 106-100 with 49.8sec to go. It sent the home fans streaming to the exits and ended a second valiant effort from the underdogs in this series.
"He raised up and made a big shot for them," Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said.
But while Cleveland can walk away thinking it should have won two of the first three games, the scoreboard has James - who paced his team with 33 points - one game away from being on the wrong end of a Finals sweep for the second time in his career.
In Game 3, James got significant help from his team-mates, with Rodney Hood adding 15 points off the bench.
But still, it did not really matter - not against the Warriors, who are not an ordinary team and whose coronation is almost complete.
"You can't have miscommunications," the forward lamented. "You can't have lulls. You can't have 'my bads'. Because they're going to make you pay."
NYTIMES, WASHINGTON POST