NBA Finals losers and winners: Stephen Curry falls flat, Kyrie and LeBron save a season

Ball Don't Lie

Game 4 concluded, Cleveland extended its season with a desperate 137-116 win, and it is time to discuss who moved us the most on Friday …


Stephen Curry

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On a Friday that saw some hacks debase themselves with fawning tributes to the 2015 and 2016 NBA MVP, Curry reminded of some of his worst 2016 Finals work with a letdown showing in Golden State’s Game 4 loss.

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Scratch that: Curry never played this poorly in his injury-marred 2016 Finals. In Game 4 Steph missed nine of 13 shots, dishing 10 assists while turning the ball over four times in a markedly ineffective turn. Curry’s night wasn’t made exceedingly worse with counterpart Cavalier point man Kyrie Irving scoring 40 points to Stephen’s 14, as Klay Thompson took the brunt of most of Irving’s scores, but it certainly didn’t help things.

Stephen Curry walks off the court, after Game 4. (Getty Images)
Stephen Curry walks off the court, after Game 4. (Getty Images)

On a night that seemed to appear as if Golden State was forever playing from behind, not even the threat of Curry’s 3-point marksmanship struck much fear in Cleveland as the game moved along. Entering the contest hitting 45 percent from long range, Curry missed seven of nine from deep in letting a big game, a comeback chance, get away from him.

Magic Johnson

The five-time Lakers champion contributed eight Finals triple-doubles during his work from 1980-91. It was a mark that seemed safe until about a decade ago, when LeBron James made his NBA Finals debut.

James didn’t get a triple-double in that 2007 Finals, not realizing the feat until his fifth game in 2011’s losing effort. Since then, James has done quite well for himself, and Sunday night’s 31-point, 10-rebound, 11-assist, (only) two-turnover effort was something else indeed:

Those that had somewhere to go

The first quarter, lauded for its excellence in Cleveland’s record-setting offensive attack, took 41 minutes of real time to complete. Game 4 itself, out of Golden State’s reach for the final 23 minutes of game action, took over three hours.

There was a lot of talking in Game 4. (Getty Images)
There was a lot of talking in Game 4. (Getty Images)

The two teams combined to shoot 67 free throws, in a back and forth that featured technical fouls on six different players (Draymond Green, James, Dahntay Jones, Iman Shumpert and Zaza Pachulia, and Kevin Durant), and a flagrant foul (Kevin Love), and somehow zero ejections. Save for the guy trying to be the guy behind the guy – that guy, an acquaintance of LeBron’s, was thrown out for jawing with Matt Barnes.

Steve Kerr also received a technical foul, as well. We think. The NBA has a lot of explaining to do with this one.

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Kyrie Irving

Two nights of deadening his home arena with dribble-happy letdown late in Game 3, Irving made sure there was no final possession to bungle in Game 4.

Working with sweat on his brow from the outset, one of the game’s most scintillating performers gave the Cavs some room to breathe. Irving blew up to the tune of 40 points in Game 4, helping give his team a weekend to live through. The 2016-17 season would be over were it not due to Kyrie’s ability to take the spotlight away from LeBron for stretches.

Significant, spectacular stretches:

The 1983 Philadelphia 76ers and 2001 Los Angeles Lakers

With a win in Game 5 on Monday, the Golden State Warriors would have set the record for the best winning percentage in a single postseason, a stellar 94.1 percent mark, at 16-1 overall, that scores of other legendary outfits would be left looking up at.

For now, though, things remain imperfect for the newly minted 15-1 Warriors. Golden State lost its chance at the only undefeated championship run in league history on Friday with this defeat, leaving the Sixers (12-1) and Lakers (15-1) still holding a share of the record for the best postseason mark in team history, as LeBron James packs his bags or Oakland one more time.

Who wants to say “goodbye” to these guys? (Getty Images)
Who wants to say “goodbye” to these guys? (Getty Images)

Those who had nowhere to go

For Friday basketball in June, you could do a lot worse than the theatrics of Mssrs. James and Irving, the endless technical foul intrigue, and the riotous atmosphere throughout.

In a postseason that has been lacking in its attempts at providing consistent competition, to be quite kindly, a bit of pushing and shoving was welcome. The Warriors and Cavaliers have played each other too many damn times, at this point, to be this cheerful with each other.

More NBA Finals coverage from Yahoo Sports:
Cavs score NBA Finals-record 49 in a quarter
LeBron pulls off ridiculous alley-oop to himself
Referee error leads to confusing Draymond Green non-ejection
Did Zaza Pachulia punch Iman Shumpert in the groin during Game 4?

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Kelly Dwyer is an editor for Ball Don’t Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

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