James had 41 points, 16 rebounds and seven assists, Irving also scored 41 points. Cleveland took full advantage of the absence of suspended star Draymond Green to remain alive in the hunt for the title.
"We had a mindset that we wanted to come here and just extend our period and have another opportunity to fight for another day," James said. "That was our main concern, and we were able to do that."
The Warriors missed Green throughout the match and they failed to do anything significant despite 37 points from Klay Thompson.
James and Irving became the first teammates to score 40 points in an NBA Finals game. After the match, they offered back-and-forth shoutouts, with James noting of Irving, "It's probably one of the greatest performances I've ever seen live."
"Now, mind you, to repeat a performance like this would definitely be tough, but whatever it takes to win," Irving said.
This was Golden State's just fourth defeat all season at sold-out Oracle Arena. They denied MVP Stephen Curry and the Warriors a chance to celebrate another championship with their golden-clad "Strength In Numbers" supporters. Now, the Warriors will need to win on the road, just the way the Warriors did last year and also in their only other championship season out West in 1975.
"I kind of like our position," coach Steve Kerr said. "... I like our position a lot better than theirs."