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(Reuters) The Cleveland Cavaliers staved off NBA Finals elimination and ended Golden State's shot at an unprecedented perfect run through the playoffs with a gritty 137-116 win over the Warriors on Friday.

Kyrie Irving scored a game-high 40 points and LeBron James chipped in with 31 as the defending champions pulled to within 3-1 and forced the best-of-seven series back to Oakland.

"We finally settled in, man, it was about damn time, for all of us just to really see what playing well as a group looks like against a great team like the Warriors," said Irving.

"We understand who they have on their team and what they're about and how established they are, but I think that in those three losses we lost track of who we were at the time. We're still a special team as well. We are here for a reason."

The Cavaliers, who beat the Warriors in a decisive seventh game last year after trailing 3-1, are now trying to become the first NBA team to rally back from a 3-0 series deficit.

The feat has only been accomplished four times in the National Hockey League and once in Major League Baseball.

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