Sat, Jun 02, 2018 - Page 16 News List

Warriors endure James’ 51 points to win Game 1

‘DUMB STUFF’:Regulation time ended in a stunning tie after Cleveland’s J.R. Smith secured a rebound and dribbled to half-court instead of shooting for a winner

AP, OAKLAND, California

The Cleveland Cavaliers’ Tristan Thompson, right, blocks a shot by the Golden State Warriors’ Stephen Curry in the first half of Game 1 of the NBA Finals at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California, on Thursday.

Photo: AP

The Golden State Warriors on Thursday night somehow withstood LeBron James’ latest brilliance on the NBA Finals stage.

A costly blunder by J.R. Smith and a disputed foul call involving James sure helped.

Stephen Curry scored 29 points as the Warriors capitalized on Smith’s mistake that sent the game into overtime, overcoming a 51-point performance by James to beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 124-114 in Game 1.

The game nearly over, James jawed with both Curry and Klay Thompson, then Tristan Thompson and Draymond Green tangled moments later and made contact. After a replay review, Tristan Thompson received a Flagrant 2 foul and ejection with 2.6 seconds left.

James was in utter disbelief as regulation ended stunningly: George Hill made the first of two free throws with 4.7 seconds left after being fouled by Klay Thompson, but when Smith secured the rebound of the second, he dribbled back toward half-court instead of shooting, apparently thinking the Cavs had a lead.

“He thought it was over. He thought we were up one,” Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said.

Yet, Smith insisted he knew the score. Green figured Smith was simply looking for James, saying: “I would have looked for LeBron, too.”

“I just thought we were going to call a timeout, because I got the rebound, I’m pretty sure I couldn’t shoot it over KD,” Smith said of Kevin Durant. “If I thought we were ahead, I would have just held on to the ball so they could foul me. Clearly that wasn’t the case.”

Instead, overtime.

And why not? Both these teams were pushed to their limits in seven-game conference finals they each had to win on the road.

“I can’t talk about a situation that way, because I do some dumb stuff on the court,” Durant said of how the fourth quarter finished. “I don’t know what was going through J.R.’s head. He made a great rebound and gave them an opportunity to win the basketball game.”

Game 2 is tomorrow night back at Oracle Arena, where the Warriors have won 18 of their past 19 post-season games.

In 2015, when Golden State beat the Cavs to capture the franchise’s first title in 40 years, the first two games of the series went to overtime — Golden State winning the opener and Cleveland winning Game 2.

James shot 19 for 32 to go with eight assists and eight rebounds in the opener of his eighth straight NBA Finals and ninth overall, as well as Cavs-Warriors Take IV.

James notched his eighth 40-point game during this playoff run to tie Hall of Famer Jerry West’s feat in 1965 for most in a single post-season.

James drove past Curry for a three-point play with 50 seconds remaining in the fourth, but was given a foul following a review with 36.4 seconds left and Durant converted a pair of free throws to tie it at 104.

The call had initially been a charge on Durant, last year’s NBA Finals Most Valuable Player, and James protested the change — while Durant said afterward he thought it was the right decision, because “I knew he was late on the drive and I knew I had my man beat and he came over a little late.”

James called it a “huge play” and said: “I knew I was outside the charge line.”

“I read that play as well as I’ve read any play in my career, maybe in my life,” he added.

Rules allow officials to go to replay in the final two minutes of regulation or in overtime to determine if a defender attempting to draw a charge was in the restricted area.

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