This was not exactly the same shot from Kevin Durant.
Game 3 of the NBA Finals again Cheap P.J. Hall Jersey , yes.
Left wing pull-up, yes.
Back in Cleveland, yes.
Final minute again, yes.
But this one was deeper than his dagger was a year ago – and it cut deeper as well. And on a night where Stephen Curry couldn’t shoot and Klay Thompson wasn’t much better, Durant put the Golden State Warriors on his slender shoulders and carried them to the brink of becoming back-to-back NBA champions for the first time.
Durant’s 33-footer was the final act in his 43-point night, and the Warriors beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 110-102 in Game 3 of the finals on Wednesday night to take a 3-0 lead in the title series for the second straight season. A year ago, his shot from a bit closer – 26 feet, officially – put the Warriors ahead to stay in what became a five-point win. This time, the longer one put Golden State up by six and sent fans starting to head toward the exits.
”Different game, different season, different feel,” Durant shrugged afterward, knowing full well how similar it was to the one he hit last season and knowing what it means right now. ”Just a different vibe around the team.”
No Sam Darnold Jets Jersey , it isn’t.
That team had a championship vibe. Soon, maybe Friday, maybe not until Monday, this team will have the same.
This was why the Warriors needed Durant, and this is why Durant needed the Warriors. He was an elite player before he went to Golden State. He’s now about to be a two-time champion because he went to Golden State. And it’s a reminder to the rest of the NBA that when the free-agency shopping kiosks open on July 1, this is the team to be chasing.
They did not have a super regular season. They are a Superteam, without question.
To win any NBA Finals game, on the road, when LeBron James has a triple-double, when they trailed most of the night, when the deficit was as many as 13 early, when Curry and Thompson shot a combined 7 for 27 … only a Superteam can pull that off.
”It’s almost like playing the Patriots,” Cleveland superstar LeBron James said Wednesday night. ”You can’t have mistakes. They’re not going to beat themselves. You know Cheap Brian O'Neill Jersey , so when you’re able to either force a miscue on them, you have to be able to capitalize and you have to be so in tuned and razor sharp and focused every single possession. You can’t have miscommunication, you can’t have flaws … because they’re going to make you pay.”
James had a triple-double. He’s three rebounds shy of averaging one in this series. He even had the highlight play of the series, a shot (which was really a pass) off the backboard to himself that he rebounded and viciously dunked. And he’s still down 3-0.
He’s not conceding. But he is clearly tipping his cap to the Warriors, his nemesis in each of the last four Junes and a team that’s one win shy of beating him in three of those series.
”That’s what championship teams do,” James said. ”That’s what championship players do. They rise to the occasion, and that’s what Golden State has done the last four years.”
Durant has made quite a career out of rising to the occasion.
He was amused earlier in this series by a question that suggested the defining moment of his career was the 3-pointer in Game 3 last season. (”You know, I had a pretty solid career before I hit that shot, I felt,” Durant said.) He will be equally amused when he gets asked if the shot he made Wednesday will also be a defining moment. He’s been an MVP, a Finals MVP, an Olympic gold medalist already.
This is just what’s next.
”I was definitely excited,” said Durant Uchenna Nwosu Chargers Jersey , who tends to try and keep emotions to himself. ”It’s hard to make shots at this level in the NBA and I understand that. But at the same time I knew the game wasn’t over.”
It may as well have been. Cleveland got within four on the next possession after Durant’s dagger, but never any closer.
”They have a number of guys that can bail their team out on any play, any game, any possession,” Cleveland’s Kevin Love said. ”And he’s been that for them a number of times. Defenses try to plan for him, but when you’re 6-11, 7-feet and you’re shooting a lazy pullup on the left wing from 27 feet that’s pretty tough to guard.”
For the record, Durant made every effort to defer the credit Wednesday night. He didn’t think his shot was the biggest of the game. He thought Curry’s lone 3-pointer in 10 tries – one that put the Warriors up by four with 2:38 remaining – carried more weight, and he might have been right.
But Durant finished it off. The game. The season. The title, basically.
”You know, we’ve got a lot of depth,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. ”We’ve got a lot of guys who can play, and they’re all chipping in. But we should probably go back to Kevin Durant DJ Moore Youth Jersey , shouldn’t we? That was amazing what he did.”
Tim Reynolds is a national basketball writer for The Associated Press. Reach him at treynolds(at)ap.org
Calling it ”a lucky play,” Jamie Benn stole the puck from Tomas Hertl and scored the go-ahead goal with 3:06 left before tacking on an empty-netter for the hat trick in the Dallas Stars‘ 4-2 victory over the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday night.
”It was just a read,” Benn said. ”I’ll take it.”
So will the Stars, who ended a seven-game road losing streak.
”We played our best third period in a long time,” coach Ken Hitchcock said.
Mike McKenna, who replaced an injured Kari Lehtonen, got the victory after stopping all 17 shots he faced. McKenna last played in the NHL for the Arizona Coyotes on Feb. 16, 2015.
”It’s fulfilling getting a win,” McKenna said. ”It was fun to be part of this win. It’s not anything I haven’t seen before. Sometimes you lean on your experience.”
Dallas’ Gemel Smith tied it at 2 with 5:17 left. Devon Shore won a battle along the boards and rushed the net, tapping it to Smith at the last second.
Logan Couture set a career high with his 33rd goal and Timo Meier scored No. 20 for the Sharks, who lost their fourth straight.
”You’re concerned any time you lose a lead,” Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said. ”Again, we played good enough tonight to score four goals and we should have won. We didn’t A.J. Green Youth Jersey , and we didn’t handle that as well as we could have in the third. For me, the big mistake was not putting them away when we had the chance, not the third period.”
Lehtonen left with an upper-body injury with 4:06 remaining in the first period. He took a puck to the facemask. Hitchcock said he should be OK for Friday’s game in Los Angeles. Lehtonen saved 12 of 14 shots.
Couture put the Sharks ahead 1-0 when he got a pass from Brent Burns and fired it into the net from long range midway through the first period.
Meier added to the lead six minutes later after chasing down a puck that had bounced off Lehtonen’s pads. He fired from the right side, finding a hole under Lehtonen’s glove.
”You don’t want to be on your heels,” Meier said. ”We were on our heels and you can’t do that late in the season. A thing like that can’t happen again.”
Benn made it 2-1 late in the second period, redirecting a centering pass from John Klingberg off Martin Jones‘ shoulder pad and into the net.
”After the second period we regrouped and refocused,” Benn said. ”We found a way to put together 20 good minutes and found a way to win.”
NOTES: Benn has points in 10 of his last 13 games. … Stars C Tyler Seguin has points in each of his past four games and six of seven overall. … Sharks F Evander Kane missed the game with an apparent arm injury suffered at Las Vegas on Saturday night. … Sharks C Dylan Gambrell made his NHL debut. … The Sharks signed Sasha Chmelevski to a contract and assigned him to the AHL Barracudas.
Stars: Play at the Anaheim Ducks on Friday.
Sharks: Host the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday.
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