By Frank Pingue
CLEVELAND (Reuters) - The Golden State Warriors stressed a need to be more aggressive in their NBA Finals with the Cleveland Cavaliers if they want to have any chance of capping a brilliant season with a title.
The top-seeded Warriors nearly pulled off a remarkable comeback on Tuesday but were ultimately undone by a slow start that saw key members of their fast-paced offense sleepwalk through the first three quarters of a 96-91 loss.
Golden State awoke in time to cut a 20-point third-quarter deficit into a one-point game with under three minutes to play as their key players started to get aggressive.
"For us to win this series we have to play that way the whole game," said Warriors guard Stephen Curry, who finished with 27 points but was not a factor until the final quarter.
"Especially on the road, we have to just play free, have fun, and be the aggressors if we're going to win this series."
The loss marked the second consecutive game Golden State got off to a slow start and they trail the best-of-seven series 2-1 with Game Four set for Thursday in Cleveland.
While the Warriors cruised through the regular season and never faced a playoff elimination game en route to the NBA's championship series, they are no strangers to slow starts and therefore not about to panic.
"We had times throughout the season where it seemed like we weren't in sync, and we just keep gutting it out and find a way through it," said Warriors forward Andre Iguodala, who chipped in 15 points.
Until the final quarter, the Warriors simply lacked patience and were unable to penetrate the Cavaliers defense.
One bright spot for Golden State came from reserve David Lee, who did not play in the first two games in the series but came off the bench to score 11. He is expected to play a larger role in Thursday's Game Four.
"You've got to bring life. You've got to bring some emotion. Obviously when the shots go in, it's easier to do that, but you have to do that when the shots aren't going in as well," said Warriors coach Steve Kerr.
"This is what we have to fight through. Things aren't going our way, it doesn't matter, you've got to fight through. You've got to bring energy."
(Editing by Peter Rutherford)