LeBron James wasn't unstoppable. The Cleveland Cavaliers fell back to normalcy.
The Golden State Warriors surprised everybody by starting a small lineup and then rediscovered their offense in a 103-82 victory Thursday in Game 4 of the NBA Finals.
The Warriors tied the series at two games each and ripped back home-court advantage as Stephen Curry scored 22 points and Andre Iguodala matched him with 22 after being promoted from reserve status for the first time this season. Game 5 is Sunday at Golden State.
James fell way off his 41-point scoring average through the first three games, totaling only 20 on seven-for-22 shooting in 41 minutes He was scoreless in the fourth quarter, taking only two shots.
“I ran through those 12 minutes in the third quarter and was gassed out,” James said.
He didn't have much help, obviously missing injured All-Stars Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love.
Cavaliers guard Matthew Dellavedova wasn't effective after being hospitalized two days earlier because of cramps and dehydration. He had 10 points on three-for-14 shooting after scoring 20 in Game 3.
Cavaliers forward Iman Shumpert was also fairly silent, scoring five points in 39 minutes while playing with a bruised right shoulder that caused him considerable pain in Game 3.
The Warriors were tired of averaging 92 points in their previous two games and shook up their lineup by going very small, making Draymond Green their starting center, all 6 feet 7 of him, and sending struggling 7-footer Andrew Bogut to the bench. With Iguodala in the mix, Golden State's starters averaged slightly more than 6 feet 6.
Warriors Coach Steve Kerr fibbed a couple of times before the game — at the team's morning shoot-around and then 90 minutes before tipoff — by saying there would be no lineup changes when asked by reporters.
A secret is a secret, especially in the Finals.
“I lied,” Kerr said. “If I tell the truth, it's the equivalent of me knocking on [Cavaliers Coach] David Blatt's door and saying, ‘Hey, this is what we're going to do.'
“Sorry, but I don't think they hand you the trophy based on morality. They give it to you if you win.”
The Warriors looked like winners almost from the start at Quicken Loans Arena.
After a surprising number of poor quarters in the series, they unveiled a 54-point first half. Green was a spark in his new role, with 13 points, four rebounds and three assists as Golden State took a 12-point halftime lead.
The Cavaliers didn't go quietly and trailed by only six going into the fourth quarter. But then came a 12-point fourth quarter from them.
They finished four for 27 from three-point range (14.8%) and shot 33% overall.
Big men Timofey Mozgov (28 points, 10 rebounds) and Tristan Thompson (12 points, 13 rebounds) had plenty of success against the Warriors' undersized lineup, but there were depth problems for the Cavaliers.
Only two reserves played until the game got out of hand — J.R. Smith and James Jones — and totaled four points on 15 shots in 44 combined minutes.
Was fatigue playing a factor? It looked like it.
“The third game in five days, including the trip back from the West Coast, and it seemed to have an impact on us, yes,” Blatt said.
James continued to play heavy minutes, as if there was anything else he could do. He had 12 rebounds and eight assists.
He went down hard after being fouled by Bogut with 4:43 left in the second quarter. The foul wasn't overly aggressive, but James went headfirst into a courtside TV camera. James immediately clutched his head, which was cut, and stayed down a couple of minutes before eventually heading to the free-throw line, where he made one of two.
“It was hurting. The camera cut me pretty bad,” James said, later adding he had a slight headache.
James wasn't tested for a concussion, but he required stitches after the game.