OAKLAND, Calif. - It came down to one shot. Just one shot.
In a game that can only be described as a battle, the Cavaliers' LeBron James hit a jump shot over Ronny Turiaf sinking the Golden State Warriors with 4.7 seconds left on the clock in front of a sell-out crowd at Oracle Arena Friday night.
After it fell, all there was left to do was celebrate a thrilling victory. James had 32 points, nine rebounds and eight assists in the win, but none was more important than the final shot - a play drawn up by Coach Mike Brown.
''It's a great feeling to go out there, especially when you get it like that. You hear the horn and the shot goes in, there's no way they can make a comeback at it,'' James said. ''It's a great feeling. I wish everyone could get that type of feeling.''
The Cavaliers withstood the barrage that the Golden State Warriors love to subject teams. It was a case of the Cavaliers trying to beating the Warriors at their own game - fast and furious hoops replete with three-pointers with defense being a secondary concern.
But instead of Cleveland getting burned by the three, the Warriors left singed as the Cavs shot 50 percent from the arc on 10-of-20 shots while the Warriors connected on 6-of-15.
Golden State began the game shooting that way as they unleashed a hail of artillery not seen since the opening scene of Saving Private Ryan before settling down later in the game. With the scored tied at 28 at 11:12 in the second quarter, Golden State went on a torrid pace, outscoring the Cavaliers 16-4 to take a 44-32 advantage. In possession of a lot of momentum, the Warriors looked as if they were in command of the game. Not so fast.
The Cavs went on a run of their own for the rest of the quarter. Within seven minutes and courtesy of a 15-2 run, the Cavaliers found themselves up by a point with 3:24 left in the quarter, a slim lead that they would build on behind the rebounding and scoring of LeBron James and Tarence Kinsey. Tarence Kinsey? Yes, Tarence Kinsey.
''I think everybody stepped up. The biggest guy to step up tonight was, of course, Tarence Kinsey,'' LeBron James said. ''TK's number was called tonight and he gave us solid minutes every part of the game he was in. It was great to see him give us some production.''
Kinsey (11 points, three rebounds) rose from the Cavaliers' bench just past midway in the second quarter and fed by James, made his presence known. That's a good thing because the Cavs needed most of the team to beat the Warriors.
With that help, it looked as if the Cavaliers were ready to put the Warriors away. The captured a lead they didn't relinquish the lead until 1:17 of the third quarter when Wally Szczerbiak would foul Golden State forward Corey Meggette, who completed the three-point play.
From there the battle continued as the teams traded shots and turnovers until the Cavaliers found themselves on a short end of a 94-90 score with 5:33 left in the game. Mo Williams, so good in the Cavs' win over the Portland Trail Blazers found himself struggling on this night as on the next possession, he missed a 3-point shot.
Perhaps the return of point guard Monta Ellis, who made his season debut after recovering from an injured left ankle caused by a moped accident, gave the Warriors a lift on the night, but there's little doubt that they had no plans to give up or bow to the Cavaliers. They scratched for every point and scrapped for every ball. That turned into a 95-94 advantage for them.
But neither did Cleveland. It was a simple case of James not allowing them to give up. In one mind-blowing series of fortunate events, he had what he thought was a layup easily blocked by Golden State's Andris Biedrins, but when Biedrins looked the pass it down the court, there was James leaping to snag the ball and put down the shot that he'd been denied, making the score 96-95.
The Cavs, looking to put a little room between themselves and the Warriors, instead turned the ball over, resulting in an easy layup for Ellis. On the Cavs' next possession, Daniel ''Boobie'' Gibson knocked down a 3-point shot to give the Cavs a 99-97 lead that wouldn't hold, as the Warriors took a 101-99 lead over the Cavs.
Then for a brief moment the struggling and strife for the night ended for Mo Williams (14 points, six assists), as he connected on a three-point shot to put the Cavs up 102-101. From there the game turned into pure drama. Quick shots: Guard Tarence Kinsey hit in double figures for just the second time this season…James became the team's all-time leading free-throw shooter.