Part IV lives up to hype: Game 1 con­tin­ues drama between the Dubs and Cavs, as teams give fans all the drama they can han­dle.

Af­ter Smith gaffe at end of reg­u­la­tion, War­riors over­whelm Cava­liers in over­time

The Mercury News Weekend - - FRONT PAGE - By Mark Me­d­ina mme­d­ina@ba­yare­anews­group.com

OAK­LAND » The fourth in­stall­ment started out as com­pelling as the first three.

The rest of the league might be tired of the War­riors and the Cava­liers in the NBA Fi­nals. Yet, the War­riors and Cava­liers pro­duced enough drama to keep the sto­ry­lines fresh. It seemed too many to count.

In no par­tic­u­lar or­der: the first episode fea­tured LeBron James’ 51 points. J. R. Smith’s lategame gaffe, a con­tro­ver­sial charg­ing call, Klay Thomp­son’s left an­kle in­jury, Tris­tan Thomp­son’s ejec­tion af­ter scuf­fling with Dray­mond Green, Stephen Curry’s ver­bal ex­change with James. And, oh yeah, the War­riors fin­ished with a 124-114 Game 1 over­time vic­tory on Thurs­day at Or­a­cle Arena af­ter ex­chang­ing 17 ties and 15 lead changes.

“Ev­ery­body has been say­ing and writ­ing that it’s go­ing to be easy. It’s not go­ing to be easy,” War­riors coach Steve Kerr said. “We’re play­ing a great team. They’ve been to The Fi­nals four years in a row, just like we have, for a rea­son.”

The game would prob­a­bly not have gone to over­time had Smith made the right play. Af­ter Cava­liers guard Ge­orge Hill missed the sec­ond of two free throws with the game tied, 107-107, with 4.7 sec­onds left, Smith grabbed the re­bound.

In­stead of try­ing to score over War­riors for­ward Kevin Du­rant, Smith ran out the clock as if the Cava­liers had a lead. Smith cut back to­ward the perime­ter be­fore pass­ing to Hill as time ex­pired. James had tried call­ing time­out with any luck.

What hap­pened? It de­pends on whom you ask.

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

Said Smith: “I knew we were tied but I thought we were go­ing to call time­out be­cause we got the re­bound. I’m pretty sure peo­ple didn’t think I was go­ing to shoot the ball over KD.”

The play re­minded Kerr of when Dal­las Mav­er­icks guard Derek Harper drib­bled out the clock with the score tied against the Los An­ge­les Lak­ers in Game 4 of the 1984Western Con­fer­ence semi­fi­nals. The Lak­ers won in over­time.

The War­riors also won in over­time be­cause Kerr af­ter his team got “lucky” with Smith’s mis­take.

“You got to know the score,” said War­riors for­ward Dray­mond Green, who had 13 points, 11 re­bounds and nine as­sists. “That’s just kind of basketball. You got to know if you’re win­ning or los­ing or tied. We’ll take it. Some­times it’s good to be a lit­tle lucky.”

The War­riors cap­i­tal­ized on that luck by open­ing over­time with a 12-2 run. More the­atrics hap­pened just be­fore the end of the game. Curry and James started jaw­ing, soon to be joined by Thomp­son.

“Just words ex­changed on a good block, and keep it mov­ing on my end,” said Curry, who had 29 points. “There’s go­ing to be chat­ter. We’ve got­ten very fa­mil­iar with each other over the last four years. So, I guess it’s kind of part of the game. But at the end of the day, it’s a bunch of noth­ing.”

Then, when Liv­ingston put up a shot in the clos­ing sec­onds — the shot clock was about to ex­pire — Thomp­son took a run at him.

“The un­spo­ken rule in the NBA: If you’re up by 10 or 11 with about 20 sec­onds left, you don’t take that shot,” Thomp­son said.

Thomp­son was then ejected with a Fla­grant 2 foul.

“He is com­ing to­ward Shaun,” of­fi­cials Ken Mauer and Tony Brothers told a pool re­porter. “His el­bow is up high and it ap­pears he hits him in the head when he is com­ing to­ward him.”

It wasn’t over yet. Green ap­proached Thomp­son and be­gan clap­ping his hands in Thomp­son’s face. Thomp­son pushed the ball into Green’s face and only cool heads — by Green, no less — kept things from get­ting out of hand.

“It wasn’t much ver­bal,” Green said. “Life goes on. He got a fla­grant 2 for

the foul, we move for­ward and get ready for the next game.”

Mo­ments be­fore­hand, it ap­peared pos­si­ble the War­riorsmight squan­der Game 1.

James made a layup and an en­su­ing foul shot to give the Cavs a 104-102 lead­with 50.8 sec­onds left. Then, Du­rant was charged for an of­fen­sive foul af­ter col­lid­ing with James in the lane. But the call was over­turned af­ter re­view, and Du­rant was granted two foul shots to tie the game at 104.

Lue ar­gued that “LeBron was clearly four feet out­side the re­stricted area.” But Mauer and Brothers told a pool re­porter they de­ter­mined James “was out of the re­stricted area” and “not in a le­gal guard­ing po­si­tion.”

“I knew he was late on the drive, and I knew I had my man beat and he came over a lit­tle late,” said Du­rant, who had 26 points.

JOSE CAR­LOS FA­JARDO — STAFF PHO­TOG­RA­PHER

War­riors guard Stephen Curry, who led the team with 29points, drains a clutch 3-pointer from half court to tie the game at the first-half buzzer in Game 1Thurs­day at Or­a­cle Arena.

NHAT V. MEYER — STAFF PHO­TOG­RA­PHER

Cava­liers star LeBron James re­acts to an of­fen­sive foul called against Kevin Du­rant — a call that was over­turned.

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