James car­ries Cavs to OT win over War­riors

The China Post - - SPORTS - BY AN­TO­NIO GON­ZA­LEZ

The fi­nal buzzer sounded, and LeBron James wasn’t done. As fans filed out of the qui­et­ing arena, James grabbed the ball and spiked it with all his might. He flexed his arms and pounded his chest, let­ting out a roar that echoed from Cal­i­for­nia to Cleve­land.

James turned in a triple-dou­ble to re­mem­ber, Matthew Dellave­dova made the go-ahead free throws in over­time, and the Cava­liers over­came a fourth-quar­ter col­lapse to out­last the Golden State War­riors 95-93 on Sun­day night to even the NBA Fi­nals at a game apiece.

James fin­ished with 39 points, 16 re­bounds and 11 as­sists in 50 min­utes, car­ry­ing Cleve­land’s de­pleted ros­ter to victory on the NBA’s tough­est home floor. The War­riors had been 47-3 at ear-pierc­ing Or­a­cle Arena.

It was the sec­ond straight over­time game, and one the Cavs never should’ve let hap­pen.

Stephen Curry had a hor­rific shoot­ing per­for­mance but con­verted the ty­ing layup for the War­riors late in reg­u­la­tion. The MVP also put Golden State in front 93-92 on free throws with 29.5 sec­onds left in over­time.

Then, Dray­mond Green met James at the rim to block his left-handed layup, but the Cavs re­tained pos­ses­sion. Af­ter James Jones missed a 3-pointer, Dellave­dova grabbed the re­bound and was fouled.

Dellave­dova made both to put Cleve­land up with 10.1 sec­onds to play. Curry air-balled a jumper con­tested by Dellave­dova, James got the re­bound and hit one of two free throws with 4.4 sec­onds left.

Af­ter James made his free throw, Curry, with­out a time­out, raced up court and tried to pass ahead to Klay Thomp­son. But Iman Shumpert bat­ted the ball away to seal the Cavs’ win.

Game 3 is Tues­day night in Cleve­land. It was a piv­otal point for the Cavs, who won their first fi­nals game in fran­chise his­tory. They were swept by the Spurs in their only other ap­pear­ance in 2007, when James was just grow­ing into the planet’s best player.

Cleve­land was star­ing at a ma­jor deficit again. Teams with a 2-0 lead have gone on to win 28 of 31 se­ries.

Now that’s one thing the Cavs won’t have to over­come.

James is still left try­ing to carry Cleve­land to its first cham­pi­onship in 51 years af­ter Kyrie Irv­ing frac­tured his left kneecap in Game 1. Irv­ing had surgery in Cleve­land on Satur­day to join side­lined starters Kevin Love and An­der­son Vare­jao, both of whom had al­ready been lost for the sea­son with in­juries. He got a lit­tle help this time. Ti­mofey Moz­gov had 17 points and 11 re­bounds but sat out a lot late in the fourth quar­ter and over­time when the War­riors went to a smaller lineup. J.R. Smith scored 13 points and Dellave­dova had nine.

Cavs coach David Blatt went with the same lineup that won Games 2 and 3 of the Eastern Con­fer­ence fi­nals when Irv­ing was out with an in­jured knee. He started Dellave­dova in Irv­ing’s place, and the scrappy Aus­tralian cor­ralled Curry as much as any­body has this sea­son.

Curry scored 19 points and shot 5 of 23 from the floor, in­clud­ing 2 of 15 from 3-point range, and had six turnovers.

Klay Thomp­son tried to pick up the back­court slack, scor­ing 34 points. But the War­riors went 8 for 35 from long range and shot 39.8 per­cent over­all.

The Cavs, who shot 32.2 per­cent, out­re­bounded the War­riors 55 to 45. It was the low­est shoot­ing per­cent­age for a win­ning team in the play­offs since at least 1984-85.

James sat for just 52 sec­onds in the first half and got two quick breaks in the third quar­ter. He nearly had to stay on the side­line when Green hit him the face as drove hard for a layup in the fourth quar­ter.

James dropped to a knee near the base­line and walked gin­gerly to the bench, where he sat with his head down be­fore re­turn­ing to make both free throws. He seemed to de­liver the dag­ger with a pull-up 3-pointer to ex­tend the Cavs’ lead to 83-72 with 3:13 to play in the fourth quar­ter. He stopped and turned to Cleve­land’s bench, tak­ing out his mouth­piece and star­ing at the stunned and si­lent crowd.

But Golden State gave its fer­vent fans more rea­son to cheer.

Curry broke his 18-minute scor­ing drought with a 3-pointer dur­ing the War­riors’ fu­ri­ous rally, which he fin­ished with a ty­ing fin­ger-roll with 7.2 sec­onds re­main­ing.

Cleve­land called time­out, and got James the ball iso­lated on An­dre Iguo­dala at the top of the key. James drove hard to his left and his layup rimmed out, and Tris­tan Thomp­son’s tip missed to send the game to over­time.

AP

Cleve­land Cava­liers for­ward LeBron James, left, shoots against Golden State War­riors for­ward Mar­reese Speights dur­ing the first half of Game 2 of bas­ket­ball’s NBA Fi­nals in Oak­land, Cal­i­for­nia on Sun­day, June 7.

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