LeBron James tried to warn everybody. Anybody.
Don't declare the Cleveland Cavaliers done. He's still on the team, after all.
Sure enough, Cleveland stunned the Golden State Warriors in overtime Sunday, 95-93, evening the NBA Finals at one game each.
James didn't shoot well, making only 11 of 35, but had 39 points, 16 rebounds and 11 assists in 50 minutes. He spiked the ball hard on the court after the game, energized by victory at Oracle Arena.
Matthew Dellavedova, a starter only because of Kyrie Irving's injury, had the decisive points, making two free throws with 10.1 seconds left in overtime after getting fouled while grabbing an offensive rebound.
“Our guys love the fact that we've been counted out and come into the series being an underdog ... especially after Kyrie got hurt,” James said. “We're without two All-Stars, and I don't know any other team in this league that would be able to do that, be without two All-Stars ... and be a force. So the guys are taking that very personal.”
There was also new life for the Cavaliers, stranded by seemingly everybody except themselves after losing Irving in Game 1 because of a fractured kneecap. It came a little more than a month after Kevin Love sustained a season-ending dislocated shoulder.
Games 3 and 4 are in Cleveland, and could they get any more alluring? The NBA Finals had never seen its first two games head to overtime until now.
Stephen Curry had a miserable Sunday, making only five of 23 shots and setting a Finals record for most missed three-point shots. He was two for 15 behind the arc, highly uncharacteristic for the NBA's most valuable player.
With the Warriors down one in the final seconds of overtime, Curry shot an airball from 19 feet. James made only one of two free throws with 4.4 seconds left, but, with the Warriors out of timeouts, Curry was charged with a turnover after messing up a pass to Klay Thompson near midcourt.
Curry didn't have any answers.
“Shots I normally make, I knew as soon as they left my hand that they were off. That doesn't usually happen,” he said. “I mean, mechanically I don't know if there is an explanation for it. Just didn't have a rhythm and didn't find one the whole game.”
The Cavaliers never won a Finals game in their 45-year history until Sunday.
Strange stuff happened to Golden State most of the night.
Curry missed 10 of his first 11 three-point attempts and then passed John Starks for most long-range misfires in the Finals (11 in 1994 with New York).
Golden State was eight for 35 behind the arc (22.9%) after making a commendable 38% in the playoffs before Sunday.
Marresse Speights somehow missed a fastbreak dunk with nobody around him, allowing Cleveland to enter the fourth quarter with a 62-59 lead.
The Cavaliers weren't very accurate themselves (32.2% overall) but took an 83-72 lead on James' three-pointer with 3:14 left in the fourth quarter. He followed it with some exaggerated clapping as he went to the bench after a Warriors timeout.
The game was seemingly over. Even the normally raucous Warriors crowd fell silent.
Then Andre Iguodala and Curry each made three-pointers, Harrison Barnes converted a three-point play the old way — getting fouled on a dunk — and the Warriors were back in business on Curry's game-tying layup with 7.2 seconds left in regulation.
James missed on a drive to the basket, Tristan Thompson couldn't convert a tip-in and the game went to overtime.
With James struggling — he missed 17 of his last 21 shots — Iman Shumpert was one of Cleveland's unofficial heroes, making a three-pointer early in overtime and getting credit for the steal off Curry with 2.2 seconds to play.
The weekend had already included the end of a decades-long drought, American Pharoah becoming the first horse since 1978 to win the Triple Crown.
Maybe Cleveland, not Golden State, will be the one breaking a championship basketball jinx.