Cleveland needed its supporting cast to step up and it did


The Cleveland Cavaliers needed it bad.

LeBron James could get a triple-double, and he certainly did with his 31 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists. He now has nine triple-doubles in the NBA Finals, which is now the most in history, passing Magic Johnson.

But even while making history, James can’t do it on his own.

Cleveland needed its supporting cast to step up Friday night to keep the NBA Finals series alive. James’ teammates delivered, and then some.

Kyrie Irving put together another solid game as he scored 40 points, including 28 in the first half. He did all of this on 15-for-27 shooting, including 7-of-12 from behind the 3-point arc.

Granted, Irving had a solid Game 3, scoring 38 points. However, he was 0-for-7 from 3-point range in that game. What’s even more amazing is Irving made the bulk of his 3-pointers when he was contested.

Irving’s 28 in the first half served as a catalyst for the Cavs breaking NBA Finals records. They now own the record for most first half points with 85. They also own the three-pointer record by going 24-for-45.

Irving was masterful, especially when he was matched up with Golden State’s best defender, Klay Thompson.

It wasn’t just Irving getting in on the fun for Cleveland, though. Kevin Love had a terrific game, scoring 23 points and making 6-of-8 from 3.

In contrast, Golden State had just one player score more than 16: Kevin Durant with 35. Durant’s performance, contrasted with that of James, has been the norm for this season. Two of the NBA’s best have gone back-and-forth. The difference for Cleveland in Game 4 was the supporting cast.

You can make a case for JR Smith stepping up, with his 15 points, all coming from three. Even Richard Jefferson, soon to be 37-years-old, made a solid contribution off the bench with eight points in 22 minutes.

Cleveland needed the effort from everyone. They didn’t want to face the disappointment that came with the heartbreaking Game 3 loss.

If winning Game 4 was the easy part, then it will likely get harder from here. Winning in Oakland is exceedingly difficult, as Golden State goes into Monday’s Game 5 perfect at Oracle Arena in these Playoffs, and 44-5 there all season long.

Cleveland can’t expect to shoot better than 50 percent from the field in game five. They can’t expect to hold Golden State to nine fast break points. The Cavs can’t even expect to hold Stephen Curry to 14 points again.

That’s why it’s important for total team contribution. Cleveland can’t worry about the fact that Golden State is one win away from winning another NBA title.

The Cavs just need to think about everyone playing the next game — and continue to give star performances from the supporting cast.