Oakland, CA (SportsNetwork.com) – Stephen Curry finally made his big splash in the NBA Finals.
Don’t call his two highlight-reel 3-pointers in a dazzling fourth quarter his signature moment of the series, though.
At least not yet.
“Signature moments only come for players that hold the trophy at the end of the day,” Curry said.
One more Golden State Warriors win will put a stamp on it.
Curry outdueled LeBron James in the fourth, scoring 17 of his 37 points in the quarter as Golden State pulled away from the Cleveland Cavaliers for a 104-91 win in Game 5 on Sunday night.
“Sooner or later Steph’s going to get going,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said.
Curry was 13-of-23 from the floor and 7-of-13 from beyond the arc. The NBA MVP was just 15-of-41 from long distance coming in and had yet to reach the 30- point plateau.
James posted his second triple-double of the Finals with 40 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists. He netted 16 points in the fourth.
It was James’ sixth career triple-double in the NBA Finals, two away from matching Magic Johnson for the most in NBA history.
“Tremendous is an understatement,” Cavaliers coach David Blatt said of James’ Finals so far. “He’s bringing it.”
The Warriors can win their first NBA title in 40 years with a victory in Cleveland Tuesday.
In a game that featured 20 lead changes and 10 ties, James’ left wing 3- pointer from several feet beyond the line staked the Cavaliers to an 80-79 edge with 7:47 left.
It didn’t take long for Curry to match James.
His rainbow from the right wing 14 seconds later put the Warriors back in front for good. Curry used his right hand to dribble between his legs, went behind his back and stepped back for an off-balanced 3 over nemesis Matthew Dellavedova from the right wing.
Fellow Splash Brother Klay Thompson nailed a trey to up the advantage to five, but a James bucket and a short hook in the paint clawed Cleveland within 85-84.
Golden State responded with an 11-2 game-clinching run and Curry capped it with another breathtaking 3 over Dellavedova.
He dribbled behind his back, took a stutter dribble with his left hand and crossed back before stepping back again for another right wing triple and a 96-86 cushion with 2:44 left.
“Those are plays I’ve been making all year,” Curry said of his two 3s.
Cleveland never got within less than seven the rest of the way.
“Falling stepbacks off the dribble, I’m OK with that. We’re OK with that,” James said. “You tip your hat to the best shooter in the league.”
Draymond Green supplied 16 points, nine rebounds and six assists and Andre Iguodala, again in the starting lineup, provided 14 points, eight boards and seven helpers for the Warriors.
The Cavaliers, who were routed 103-82 in Game 4 when Kerr elected to start his super-small lineup, made some changes of their own Sunday.
Cleveland’s starting lineup remained the same, but Timofey Mozgov played less than 10 minutes and didn’t score a point following a 28-point, 10-rebound performance Thursday.
Blatt matched the Warriors’ small-ball strategy by playing James some minutes at center.
“I felt we needed to respond to the last game,” he said. “Without question we were in that game.”
Tristan Thompson had 19 points and 10 boards, while J.R. Smith scored all of his 14 points in the first half for Cleveland, which started slow in Game 5.
James airballed his first shot from the floor, Iman Shumpert clanked a left corner 3 off the side of the backboard and the Cavs committed five early turnovers. Those giveaways led to six fastbreak points and an 8-2 margin for the Warriors.
James, however, got the Cavs back in it, recording a three-point play and finding Shumpert for a 3 to stake them to their first lead, 17-16, at the 2:54 mark of the first.
The game was tied 22-22 at the end of one.
After James was called for an eight-second violation in the closing moments of the opening half, Harrison Barnes’ three-point play with 3.2 seconds in the half gave the Warriors a 51-50 lead heading into the break. He followed up a Curry miss with a dunk and sunk the subsequent free throw for the 12th lead change of the opening 24 minutes.
Curry and Iguodala hit triples during a 13-4 swing to close the third quarter, with a pair of Leandro Barbosa free throws ending the burst for a 73-67 Golden State spread.
The Warriors haven’t won an NBA title since 1975 … Golden State improved to 48-4 at home this season … Curry’s 37 points are the most by a Warriors player in an NBA Finals game since Rick Barry netted 38 against the Washington Bullets in Game 3 of the 1975 Finals … Curry is the fifth player to score at least 17 points in the fourth quarter of an NBA Finals game in the last 40 years.