Warriors win NBA Finals opener
King James scores career high 51 in Game One defeat
Acontroversial video review foul reversal left Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue feeling “robbed” after the Golden State Warriors ripped the Cavaliers 124-114 in overtime in Thursday’s NBA Finals opener.
Stephen Curry scored 29 points, Kevin Durant added 26 and Klay Thompson had 24 to spark the defending champions to victory despite LeBron James scoring a playoff careerhigh 51 points in defeat.
“To do what he did tonight and come out robbed, it’s just not right,” Lue said.
A physical, heated and emotional game marked the start of the fourth finals in a row between the teams and the eighth in a row involving James, who echoed Lue’s theft theme.
“There were some plays that we had taken away from us,” James said. “We’re in the fight now. They got a great taste of it tonight.”
The crucial moment came with 36.4 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter as Durant was whistled for a charging foul that was overturned on video review into a blocking foul on James, giving Durant two free throws he made to lift the Warriors level at 104-104.
“I read that play just as well as I’ve read any play in my career, maybe in my life,” James said. “I seen the play happening. I was outside the charge line. I stepped in, took the contact. It’s a huge play.”
Lue said James was clearly outside the line so the play never should have been reviewed, much less reversed.
“For our team to come out and play their hearts out and compete the way we did, man, I mean, it’s bad,” Lue said.
“It has never been done, ever, in the history of the game. And then tonight in the finals on the biggest stage, when our team played well, played our ass off, man, it ain’t right. It ain’t right.”
Referee Ken Mauer defended the choice to review the call.
“We had doubt as to whether or not James was in the restricted area,” Mauer said. “It was determined he was out of the restricted area but he was not in a legal guarding position prior to Durant’s separate shooting motion. So we had to change it to a blocking foul.”
Golden State coach Steve Kerr said he had seen such a reversal “not often, but I’ve seen it a couple times.”
Durant said he had a blockcharge reversal in the regular season. “I knew once it was 30 seconds to go that they could review that situation,” Durant said. “I knew he was late on the drive and I knew I had my man beat and he came over a little late. So when they called the charge I was surprised.”
After play resumed, James hit an inside shot and Curry answered with a 3-point play but Cleveland’s George Hill made a free throw to pull the Cavs level at 107-107 with 4.7 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter.
LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers goes to the basket against the Golden State Warriors in Game One of the 2018 NBA Finals on Thursday at ORACLE Arena in Oakland, California. Warriors ripped the Cavaliers 124-114.