Golden State, which also had 30 points from Klay Thompson and 26 from Stephen Curry, would become the first team in National Basketball Association history to make an unbeaten playoff run to the crown if they win game four on Friday in Cleveland.
Irving netted 16 points in the third and instead of falling well back as they had in the third periods of both prior games, the Cavaliers outscored Golden State 33-22 and seized their biggest edge so far in the finals, up 94-89 after three quarters.
The Warriors scored the last 11 points in the game to stretch their record playoff win streak this season to 15-0 and grabbed a 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.
With 75 seconds left, first-year Warrior Durant knocked down a gentle floater over Tristan Thompson before his signature moment.
On the night, the four-time MVP went 15-for-27 from the floor, including 4-of-9 from long-range, adding 11 boards, a game-high nine assists, a steal and a blocked shot in almost 46 minutes of work.
Anyway, I'm not one to play the "one team wanted it more" card and think that's the difference in a series, per se.
Smith had been a non-factor in the Finals, having not made a basket since scoring the first points of Game 1, but hacked or not, he finally got his act together Wednesday.
The Cavaliers are no match for these Warriors, not even with arguably the best player on the planet in LeBron James. And while no National Basketball Association team has come back from such a deficit, it seemed that the Cleveland guard was making a bold forecast before quickly retracting the prediction. "This is probably the most firepower I've played in my career", James stated, "...
"We talked about it since The Finals last year that the last season was a very unique year, for a lot of different reasons, and we learned a lot", Curry said.
They look ready to play for many more. That gave the Warriors a lead they held the rest of the way. "I gave everything that I had, so at times throughout the game I was exhausted, but that's just because I was just playing as hard as I could".
Neither will turn 30 until next year, while Thompson and Green are only 27. "So even when you're playing well, you got to play A-plus-plus, because they're going to make runs and they're going to make shots and they got guys that are going to make plays".
"Just the combination of offense and defense, the talent that they've been able to amass, it puts them in position where this is a dynasty to me", ABC analyst Jeff Van Gundy said before the NBA Finals.