Steph Curry scored quickly on the Warriors' next possession and, after a LeBron miss on the other end, Durant scored on a short pull-up to get Golden State to within a deuce, 113-111.
Durant scored a team-high 31 points for the Warriors, who will get a chance on Friday in Cleveland to become the first team to go unbeaten all the way to a title.
That's what we want. It's so hard to do. "That's the important lesson, not any historical benchmarks or anything like that".
If Golden State wins these NBA Finals over Cleveland in four or five games, the Warriors - 81-15 this season going into Wednesday night - would finish with the second-best single-season winning percentage in league history (including all games, regular season and playoffs).
Didn't matter. Durant drilled it, the most important shot of his career, putting the Warriors up one with 45 seconds left.
According to research from ESPN, the first two games of this series were played at a faster pace than any game previously in James' playoff career. Can they beat the Golden State Warriors at home? Now Green has four fouls midway through the third quarter of Game 3 Wednesday night. But neither do the Warriors, and that is the issue. The Cavaliers held their own throughout the first and second quarters.
James opened Game 2 guarding Durant, but Richard Jefferson and Iman Shumpert also took turns guarding him.
What the Cavaliers must do is to send a message at the start that the Warriors could not score at will.
The Cavs extended their edge to seven early in the fourth, but Golden State wouldn't go away.
The Warriors roared back against the Cleveland Cavs in Game 3 of the NBA Finals, ending with an 11-0 run in the last three minutes of the game. The duo are not the Cavaliers' problem.
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The blaze ripped through the 24-storey building in the early hours of Wednesday, leaving residents trapped in the high rise block. Metropolitan Police Stuard Cundy said: "Sadly, our work will be ongoing for many, many weeks".
KD, only champion of the now defunct H-O-R-S-E even the National Basketball Association toyed with during All-Star weekend, has seen his style mesh with the substance of the game's biggest stage in order to force people to appreciate talents that have been slept on over the years as he's come up short alongside Westbrook. Forget about the Warriors.
Cleveland was in the same spot a year ago, but that was before the Warriors added Kevin Durant to a 73-win team.
But Golden State refuse to get ahead of themselves after having lost the third game in each of the last two NBA Finals, both in Cleveland, and know they will have to snap that streak to even give them a shot at going 16-0 in the post-season.
"It's the Finals; we had our horses in", said Irving.
"I never been in this position before", said Durant, long accused of not being able to win the big game. No team in the NBA's history has ever come back from a 3-0 deficit in a Final's series.
"We have to take care of home court", Cavaliers forward Kevin Love said.
"What I don't think many people accounted for ... is what Durant's arrival was going to do to the guy who used to be the second-best player in the world: Stephen Curry", he said.
In the first two games of the Finals the scoring has been absurd.
"It's a dramatic situation to be in", James said of the mountain his team has to climb if they want to win a second-straight National Basketball Association title, "but it is what it is". "We all have to play better and we will". "In the past, we kind of got haywire and hectic". We can't take bad shots.