CLEVELAND -- LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers had a message for all of us, present company included, who wrote them off for dead heading into Game 3 of the NBA Finals: Not so fast.

For a night at least, Cleveland reclaimed its pride, claimed its home court and set the series on a more even footing with a 120-90 beatdown of the defending champions.

This wasn't just a huge win that cut the Warriors' series lead to 2-1. It was, among a throng of Cavs fans at Quicken Loans Arena who again pinned their long-suffering hopes on LeBron James and his promise to be the Chosen One, a game that addressed the NBA's reigning narratives, answered the critics and reminded us all that winning a championship -- and how we view those teams that get so close to doing so -- is much more complicated than hot takes and quick headlines.

Let's start with those narratives.

The first was that LeBron James was about to be 2-5 in the NBA Finals, a touchstone to his supposed diminishing play and power -- and to his hold over the league. That lackluster late-game grit in Games 1 and 2 of this series, and the perception of a fourth-quarter abdication in Game 2 after he didn't play a single minute, meant the Cavs were finished before they even got home.

Silly us. Come what may, the most interested and complicated star in sports made such easy-to-digest views a little more, well, interesting and complicated.

That's LeBron: Mostly shades of gray. Just like a series on which hinges so many legacies and all-time great opportunities. No wonder, with the stakes so high, nothing coming easy, not to either team. Not yet.

LeBron came home, got support from his teammates, and answered us with 32 points, 11 rebounds, six assists, two blocks and a steal. He was 14 of 26 despite starting 5 of 14. His second half accounted for 21 of those points, seven of his rebounds, four of his assists, the two blocks and the steal. He was plus-22 in that span. He was great.

And his teammates -- remember that other narrative, that LeBron has no help? -- stepped up just as impressively. Kyrie Irving had 30 points and eight assists. Tristan Thompson was an absolute beast, scoring 14 points and pulling down 13 rebounds. Richard Jefferson, at the tender age of 35, played 33 important and impressive minutes, including nine points and eight rebounds. JR Smith had 20 points. Kevin Love was not missed.

No, LeBron James is not done, and he is far from alone. This is a series in which the best team will win, and either Steph or LeBron -- based solely on which team lifts that trophy -- will be raised in most of our eyes above the other.

It has been a bizarre and hard-to-predict series, one which has produced three blowouts and a rotation of poor performances from its stars -- including, of course, Curry. Which brings us to another narrative that for a night took a hit. This notion that Steph is impenetrable.

Not so.

Not yet.

After a poor Game 1 outing in which he went 4 for 11 and scored just 11 points, Curry finished Wednesday night's game with 19 points on 6-of-13 shooing. Don't let those numbers fool you. He was abysmal. He had just two points through the first half, by which point, despite letting a 20-point lead slip to eight, the Cavaliers had the game well in hand and their mojo back.

Winning an NBA championship is hard, and so are the standards that come with climbing to the top of this mountain. The further up you go, the looser the footing -- the slipperiness of huge expectations, larger and more intense spotlights, fiercer competition from jealous adversaries who want what you have, and even the formative challenge of being measured as much by history as by the present day.

Fair? Life's not fair. And stardom has its price to pay.

Prior to the start of this series, Curry had never scored fewer than 20 points in consecutive playoff games. He's now failed to hit the 20-point mark three consecutive times, all in this series.

Dating back to last year, Curry has had three very poor outings in nine Finals games and has been, by his standard, great in only one (Game 5 last year) -- a fact, as with LeBron, that will be wholly remembered or forgotten based on ultimately winning or losing. Two of those bad games have come in this series, as the reigning and unanimous Most Valuable Player. The other was a 5-for-23, 19-point outing in Game 2 of last year's championship run that you probably don't remember or care about because the Warriors won it all.

None of this stuff is easy, or certain. That's the beauty of sports, and the great gift -- and difficulty -- that comes with being among the game's best.

LeBron, and now Curry, both carry this load.

I still think the Warriors will win Game 4, and ultimately this series, and will go on to be widely regarded as the greatest single-season team in NBA history. I still believe LeBron, even with what would then be a 2-5 NBA Finals record, will be remembered as one of the absolute all-time greats -- but not nearly in the way he will be if he wins this series.

But it's not me, or you, or anyone else other than either the Warriors or the Cavaliers who will write these things in stone. It is the victors who write history.

Is this the rise, again, of LeBron James, another coronation, another step up that all-time ladder toward Jordan and Magic and Bird? Or is it 2-5 in the Finals and talk he can't win without Pat Riley?

Is this the moment Steph Curry became a similar all-time contender, the leader of the greatest team in NBA history, the next-great thing in this league and its de facto ruler? Or is this the start of the mirage giving way to that reality so many old-timers keep insisting is coming?

That's a complicated question. The answer -- or at least how we view it, all of us -- will be written over the next two to four games.

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You didn't think LeBron was going to go out easily, did you? USATSI