OAKLAND, California — Kevin Durant drove through the lane untouched for dazzling dunks time and again, finishing with 38 points, eight rebounds and eight assists in his first NBA Finals for Golden State and leading the Warriors past LeBron James and the defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers, 113-91 on Thursday in Game 1.
Stephen Curry scored 28 points with six 3-pointers and 10 assists as this sure-to-be thrilling trilogy began at last, a long-expected, spectacular grand finale envisioned ever since that July day Durant left Oklahoma City to join the loaded Warriors.
“I think the start of the game, we were a little too anxious and we missed some layups, we gave up some open shots,” Durant said. “I think we just locked in from the second quarter on.”
Durant’s only other Finals ended at the hands of LeBron and Miami in 2012. He shot 14 for 26 in his fifth 30-point performance this postseason, receiving a rousing ovation when he sat down for good with 2:16 remaining.
Warriors starting center Zaza Pachulia returned after missing the final two games at San Antonio with a bruised right heel and contributed eight points and six rebounds while plugging the paint. Golden State’s four turnovers tied an NBA Finals low.
James had 28 points, 15 rebounds and eight assists a day after dealing with bigotry far away from basketball. Kyrie Irving, who hit the deciding 3-pointer with Curry’s hand in his face last June as Cleveland rallied from a 3-1 series deficit to win the city’s first major team title in 52 years, scored 24 points on 10-of-22 shooting. Kevin Love grabbed 21 rebounds and scored 15 points, while Tristan Thompson was held scoreless and to four boards.
Game 2 in the series is Sunday back at Oracle Arena with its deafening sellout crowd.
This marks the first time in NBA history the same two teams played in three straight Finals and just the fourth time it has happened in the four major sports leagues. (The Associated Press)
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