December 11, 2017
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Cavaliers stun Warriors to win NBA title

By The Sports Xchange, Special to the BDN
Kelley L Cox | USA Today | BDN
Kelley L Cox | USA Today | BDN
Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) and forward Kevin Love (0) celebrate Sunday night after beating the Golden State Warriors in Game 7 of the NBA Finals at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California.

OAKLAND, California — Kyrie Irving buried a 3-pointer over Stephen Curry to break a tie with 53.0 seconds remaining Sunday night, sending the Cleveland Cavaliers to their first NBA championship, 93-89 over the Golden State Warriors.

The dramatic finish capped a three-game sweep for the Cavaliers, the first-ever in NBA Finals history, after they had fallen behind 3-1 in the best-of-seven series.

The three-game losing streak was the Warriors’ first in the two-year Steve Kerr coaching era.

Cleveland became the first team since the Washington Bullets in 1978 to win a Game 7 on the road.

LeBron James, the unanimous MVP, had a 27-point, 11-rebound, 11-assist triple-double and Irving added 26 points as they became just the third and fourth players in NBA history drafted No. 1 overall to win championships for the team that selected them.

The Cleveland defense was as critical in the win as Irving’s winning shot. The Warriors missed their final eight shots, including six 3-point attempts, and never scored after Klay Thompson tied the score at 89-all with 4:40 to play.

Each team missed six consecutive shots over a stretch of almost four minutes before Irving got Curry on a switch and went one-on-one.

Unable to get around his counterpart, Irving settled for a 24-footer that swished through the net for Cleveland’s first basket since the 4:51 mark.

Golden State had an opportunity to tie, but an offensive possession went nowhere and Curry was forced to try a well-defended 3-pointer that was off the mark.

The Cavaliers rebounded, and after Irving almost lost the ball going to the basket, he was able to find James, who was fouled while attempting a flying dunk.

James made the second of two free throws with 10.6 seconds remaining, increasing the Cleveland lead to four.

Curry missed another 3-pointer, his fourth of the game-ending drought, starting a wild Cavaliers celebration on the Golden State court.

The victory made the Cavaliers’ Tyronn Lue just the second coach in NBA history to win a championship in his first season. The Warriors’ Kerr had accomplished the feat last season.

J.R. Smith was a third Cavalier scoring in double figures with 12 points.

Cleveland won despite shooting just 40.2 percent from the field and 6-for-25 (24.0 percent) from 3-point range.

Draymond Green had 32 points, 15 rebounds and nine assists to lead the Warriors, who were held to 38.6-percent shooting.

Two-time regular-season MVP Curry had 17 points, but missed 13 of his 19 shots, and Thompson finished with 14 on 6-for-17 shooting for the Warriors.

The backcourt All-Stars combined for just six 3-pointers in 24 attempts. The Warriors shot just 15-for-41 from beyond the arc in the game.

In a series where no previous game was decided by fewer than 10 points, neither team held a double-digit lead.

Up 76-75 entering the period but down 83-80 five minutes into it, the Warriors got a 3-pointer from Curry and two-point hoops from Thompson and Green in a 7-0 burst that put them back on top by four, 87-83, with 5:36 left.

But James countered immediately with three free throws and then a 3-pointer, giving Cleveland the upper hand at 89-87 with 4:51 to go.

The Cavaliers trailed by seven at halftime, but the deficit didn’t last long once the third period began.

Smith, who missed all four of his 3-point attempts in the first half, buried two in succession in an early 8-0 Cleveland flurry that produced a 54-all tie.

Then after a Curry 3-pointer helped Golden State re-establish a five-point lead, the Cavaliers ran off 11 straight to go up 65-59, with Irving delivering seven of them on a layup, two free throws and a three-point play.

Cleveland went on to lead by as many as seven later in the period before Green buried a 3-pointer and three free throws after getting fouled on a 3, and Harrison Barnes bombed in a 3 of his own, helping Golden State retake a 76-75 lead by period’s end.

Thanks mostly to a 22-point flurry by Green, the Warriors held a 49-42 lead at halftime. But a key nine-second sequence late in the second period helped give the Cavaliers life.

After 3-pointers by Green and reserve guard Leandro Barbosa had fueled a 9-2 burst that opened a 47-40 lead, Curry went for the kill with one of his 30-foot building-exploders.

The shot was off the mark, however. And nine second later, Curry was called for his third foul, sending him to the bench for the final 1:09 of the half and fitting him for defensive handcuffs the remainder of the game.

The Warriors built the halftime lead despite just 14 combined points on 5-for-17 shooting from Curry and Thompson.

James had 12 points and Irving nine for the Cavaliers. They combined to shoot 9-for-20, but their teammates were just 7-for-22, including 1-for-10 on 3’s.

NOTES: The Warriors made a change in their starting lineup in the wake of their Game 6 loss without C Andrew Bogut (bruised knee). C Festus Ezeli started in place of F Andre Iguodala, who battled a bad back in Game 6. … In all series prior to the Finals this season, the home team had been 4-0 in Game 7 — including the Warriors’ win over Oklahoma City in the Western Conference finals. … The two coaches took different approaches to the long day leading into 5 p.m. (Pacific) start. The Warriors’ Steve Kerr said he went to a yoga class with assistant coach Luke Walton. “I’m guessing Bill Belichick and his staff don’t do that,” he said. … The Cavaliers’ Tyronn Lue said he took a nap after breakfast and the club’s morning walk-through at the team hotel.

 


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