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Record-breaking Cavs explosion sends suddenly heated series back West

CLEVELAND -- LeBron James threw an alley-oop off the backboard to himself. James and Kevin Durant had to be separated by team personnel. Draymond Green picked up a technical foul and was immediately admonished by screaming assistant Mike Brown. Deron Williams actually scored a bucket. Zaza Pachulia struck Iman Shumpert in the groin. Matt Barnes and David West got into an argument with a fan sitting courtside, and the fan, who happens to be friends with James, was escorted from his seat by security.

And all that was just in the third quarter.

The Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors locked horns in an explosive Game 4 on Friday, and Cleveland took the first step toward turning the highly anticipated NBA Finals "three-match" into a series worth the hype with a 137-116 victory to make the series 3-1.

Yup, basketball fans, Cleveland trails Golden State in the Finals 3-1. How about that?

Before the basketball game turned into a variety show with all sorts of extracurricular shenanigans after halftime, the Cavs played some of the best ball ever played in the championship round to thwart the Warriors' bid at a perfect 16-0 postseason.

"We have a great opportunity to give ourselves another opportunity to keep going," James said. "This was as close to a 48-minute game as we played in the postseason. ... It was big for us."

What would this series have looked like through the first three games if the Cavaliers had shot the ball from 3-point range the way they had all season?

That's the question the Cavs asked themselves in the days leading up to Game 4 after falling behind 3-0 to the explosive Warriors while wilting away from long range.

On Friday, the shots fell early and often, and the fans in Quicken Loans Arena barely sat in their seats all night, cheering on as they hoped they weren't seeing the Cavs' last game of this postseason.

The Cavs scored 49 points in the first quarter -- setting a new Finals record for most points in any quarter -- and went 7-for-12 on 3-pointers while pouring it on.

They kept it up in the second quarter, taking an 86-68 lead into halftime as their 3-pointers continued to find the bottom of the net. The Cavs scored the most points in a half and recorded the most made 3s in a half in Finals history (13-for-22).

"That's part of who we are," James said. "We set a lot of records since we kind of assembled this team the last couple years."

James logged a triple-double -- 31 points, 10 rebounds, 11 assists -- to overtake Magic Johnson for the most triple-doubles in Finals history, with nine. And with James' first basket in the first quarter, he passed Michael Jordan for third on the all-time Finals scoring list.

Kyrie Irving led all scorers with 40 points on 15-for-27 shooting. Kevin Love pumped in 23 points. Tristan Thompson had nearly as many rebounds in Game 4 (10) as he had in Games 1-3 combined (11). JR Smith kept up his hot shooting from Game 3 with another strong night (15 points, including five 3s).

Durant led Golden State with 35 points but shot just 9-for-22.

There were seven technical fouls called as well as one flagrant, and the aggressive nature seemed to favor the Cavs.

"You get down 3-0 and you're fighting and you're trying to get a win, you do whatever it takes," Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said. "I thought our team was very energetic."

By the end, the Cavs set a record for most 3s in a Finals game, going 24-for-45 (53.3 percent). This after combining to go 31-for-104 on 3s in the first three games of the series.

"They're a great team, but I think we're a great team also," Lue said of his team after the Cavs failed to protect a late six-point lead Wednesday.

The final three minutes of Game 4 didn't have nearly the same drama, as Cleveland put in its subs for garbage time in a game the Cavaliers led by as many as 22 points.

Fans chanted "Cavs in 7" to end the night.

If Cleveland can keep playing this way, that cheer might not be so crazy.

"Believeland is not going to give up and we're going to keep fighting," Lue said. "We're going to keep scrapping."