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Warriors' Shooters Get The Job Done, Tie NBA Finals 2-2

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

The NBA finals are moving from Cleveland back to California. And after last night's game, the Cleveland Cavaliers might want that change in scenery. The Cavs got trounced by 21 points, plus their star got one nasty injury. Now the Golden State Warriors have the series tied at two games apiece. Here's NPR's Tom Goldman.

TOM GOLDMAN, BYLINE: The downside of playing three straight riveting, high-octane finals games, as the Warriors and Cavs have done over the past week, is that someone's going to run out of octane. And last night, it was the hometown heroes. A 7-0 Cavs lead to start the game vanished and became a 12-point halftime deficit. And as the second half began, you could feel a little extra urgency from Ahmaad Crump. He's the so-called hype-man at Quicken Loans Arena, whose job it is to work the 20,000-plus Cavs fans into a lather.

(SOUNDBITE OF NBA FINALS GAME 4)

AHMAAD CRUMP: It's no time to be quiet.

GOLDMAN: It's no time to be quiet, he said, it's no time to panic. One basket at a time and watch us climb back into this thing. Well, climb they did. The Cavs got within three in the third quarter, but that was as close as they got. With three minutes left in the game and Golden State ahead by 19, the queues started to empty. Cleveland fans, wearing their All In T-shirts, were all out. Prodigal son LeBron James, who is carrying the team and the city on his back, in an effort to bring Cleveland a long overdue championship, put a perfect spin on the early exits.

LEBRON JAMES: I mean, I came out the game as well - early. So we's on the same page.

GOLDMAN: So, who were the culprits who ruined the night for James and his peeps? It started with Warriors head coach Steve Kerr, a bright, funny, engaging man, who's also a liar. Before the game, he told reporters no changes to the starting lineup to get the Warriors out of their Game's 2 and 3 doldrums. In fact, he had decided to make a change, but didn't want the Cavs to find out.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

STEVE KERR: So I lied. Sorry, but I don't think they hand you the trophy for - based on morality. They give it to you if you win. So sorry about that.

GOLDMAN: Not that anyone's condoning lying, but the lineup change played a big part in winning the game and, possibly, saving the Warriors's season. Kerr replaced center Andrew Bogut with veteran forward Andre Iguodala. The Warriors went small and fast. Iguodala had a team-high 22 points and Golden State stole back the tempo that Cleveland had dictated for two straight games.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

DRAYMOND GREEN: We needed to put them on their heels.

GOLDMAN: Golden State's Draymond Green was part of that smaller starting lineup.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

GREEN: This entire series has been them as the enforcers, them as the aggressors, and us on our heels. We needed to reverse that, and we were able to do that tonight. And that's what the small lineup helped do.

GOLDMAN: It also helped that Cleveland shot the ball horribly. Indeed, if they'd encountered the broad side of a barn - well, you know. And one of the indelible images from Game 4 - LeBron James, bending over, late in the game, clutching his shorts. The universal sign of sports exhaustion.

JAMES: You know, I ran through those 12 minutes in the third and I gassed out.

GOLDMAN: Not surprising, considering the Herculean effort he's put in so far - an average of 41 points, 12 rebounds, eight assists per game, in the first three games. He mustered only 20 points last night and managed to scare the daylights out of Cavs nation. After a hard foul in the first half, he fell along the baseline and cracked his head on a TV camera. He lay on the ground, writhing, and then got up, bleeding from a cut. Reportedly, no concussion, but James said he had a headache after the game - from the camera and probably from the Warriors. Tom Goldman, NPR News, Cleveland. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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