Twitter
Categories
Archives

Entries in LeBron James (15)

6:47AM

Warriors-Cavs: ‘Robbery,’ replay and brilliance by LeBron

By Art Spander

OAKLAND, Calif. — J.R. Smith had the ball but didn’t know what to do with it. The officials had the call and, according to the Cavaliers, did too much with it.

Oh, those NBA finals, a place where individual brilliance (the virtually unstoppable LeBron James had 51), collective disappointment (“To come up robbed, it’s just not right,” sighed Cavs coach Tyronn Lue) and an extended conclusion (those final seconds seemed to last forever) merged to create a game that, depending on one’s viewpoint, either was memorable or forgettable.

For sure, it was exciting.

The Warriors won, 124-114, but since it was in overtime, and with Cleveland in control most of the game, the scenario defied that of forecasters who had Golden State easily winning both this opener of the best-of-seven matchup and the title.

In summary, it was a bit of lunacy ensnared in a lot of confusion.

“The finals, man,” said the Warriors' Steph Curry. “Anything is liable to happen.”

Especially when it’s the same two teams for a fourth straight year; especially when, as underdogs, they both won their conference championships in seven games, the seventh one on the road — only a few days before the Thursday night start of the Finals.

You could say the game had everything: athleticism, harsh words, a key instant replay with 36 seconds left in regulation and not least that perplexing move — or non-move — by Smith when he grabbed a rebound with 4.5 seconds to play.

George Hill had hit a free throw to tie the game, 107-107. He missed the second, however, and when Smith grabbed the offensive rebound — all game, Cleveland dominated the boards with 53 rebounds to 38 for the Dubs — Smith dribbled toward halfcourt instead of shooting.

It was an awful miscalculation. “He thought it was over,” said Lue. “He thought we were one up.”

Instead they were on their way to overtime, where they would be outscored 17-7, James unable to get more than two free throws in the period.

“I knew it was tied,” Smith insisted. “I thought were going to take a timeout because I got the rebound. I’m pretty sure everybody didn’t think I was going to shoot over KD (Kevin Durant) right there. I tried to get out and get enough space. I looked over at LeBron, and he looked like he was trying to get a timeout.”

Minutes after play ended, what James was trying to do was get away from the media’s questions, which finally he did by cutting off the interview and walking away.

He perhaps was still irritated by the officials’ decision late in regulation when he planted himself inside near the Cleveland basket and — he thought — was run into by Durant. But replays did appear to show James had moved his feet as Durant approached. The call originally was charging, which would have given Cleveland the ball. Then it became a defensive foul.

“I thought I read that play just as well as any in my career, defensively,” said LeBron. “I saw the drive. I was outside the charge line. I stepped in and took the contact. It’s a huge play.”

The Warriors' inevitable threesome all were in the 20s: Curry with 29 points, Durant 26 and Klay Thompson 24. Despite going out for a while in the first half after a collision. Draymond Green had 13 points and 11 rebounds.

Told that his coach, Steve Kerr, said the J.R. Smith bungle was lucky for the Warriors, Draymond said, “Sometimes you need a little bit of luck. So I’ll take it. I think when (Smith) got the rebound he probably could have laid it in. But nonetheless that’s part of the game. You got to know if you’re winning or losing or tied.”

Which Smith claimed he did know. He simply didn’t turn the knowledge into points. Or attempted points.

“Who knows if J.R. would have made the layup anyway?” said Lue. “We had a chance to win. We had to regroup. But they came out and played well in overtime.”

And won the game — the hard, lucky way.

8:30PM

Draymond Green on KD: ‘His defense is spectacular’

By Art Spander

OAKLAND, Calif. — For the opponent, it’s the old question against the young but experienced Warriors. Which poison do you pick: Triple Double (Draymond Green, of course) or Double Trouble (Kevin Durant)?

It’s a numbers game you’re destined to lose.

Green got his threesome on Christmas day at the Oracle (12 points, 12 rebounds, 11 assists), Durant his double (25 points, five blocked shots). What the Warriors got on the holiday was less a gift than a well-earned victory over the only other team the fans seem to care about, the Cleveland Cavaliers, 99-92.

The NBA wants to put on a show every December 25, five games from morning to night, and the prime attraction, a noon start Pacific time, 3 p.m. on the East Coast, is the matchup between the franchises that faced each other in the last three NBA finals, the Cavs and Dubs. As Hollywood knows, sequels sell.

So does the Big D, defense, particularly by KD, Durant.

The chant? It’s not “offense, offense.” Hardly anyone needs encouragement to let fly a 15-footer or roar in for a dunk. Scoring points is fun. Keeping the other team from scoring them is work. And the Warriors have been working. Especially Durant.

Nobody doubts what he can do with the ball. He’s averaging 28.4 points a game. With Steph Curry missing, Durant was the guy who kept throwing in the winners, against the Lakers, against everyone, as the streak went to 11 in a row. Whoever dreamed that someone 6-foot-10 had the touch of someone 5-10? Swish.

Or who sensed Durant would use his wingspan (something around seven feet) to stymie and swat? Not Green, who a couple years back, when Durant was at Oklahoma City, went against him in the playoffs.

“He always made some defensive moves,” Green said of Durant, a teammate now for a second year, “but he never really seemed to care. When he was guarding me, I knew how good he was, his length, how hard it was to get a shot off. When he came here, we talked about him getting better. From that point last year, he’s become a great defender.”

Durant almost agrees. But hold off on the word "great."

“I’m getting close to where I want to be,” said Durant. “But I’m not quite there.”

Durant on Monday defended the NBA’s best player, LeBron James, because that’s what Kevin wanted to do. James had 20 points (Kevin Love led the Cavs with 31 and 18 rebounds) but also a game-high seven turnovers.

“He’s one of the leaders in blocked shots per game,” James said of Durant. “He’s been doing a heck of a job first of all taking (the) individual matchup and then protecting the rim, too. They have a good, maybe great They kicked our butts in transition.

“(Durant’s) right up there, if not the best, with Kawhi (Leonard), Russ (Westbrook), James (Harden). There’s a pretty long list. To play the same position, with me and KD being small forwards and with Kawhi, we do a great job of going at it.”

Durant’s only problem, if it can be considered as such, is that from afar, the fans, the press, he’s known as a shooter and scorer, no matter how many shots he blocks.

“If he just played defense,” said Draymond of Durant, “he’d be spectacular. But it will never overshadow his offense, which is spectacular.”

Durant was involved in yet another “call it the way you want it” play in the final seconds when the Warriors were ahead, blocking a LeBron shot and also it appeared getting a bit of LeBron’s hand. The officials studied replay after replay, then determined there was no foul.

“I just like guarding my position,” Durant said of taking on James. “A small forward is supposed to defend a small forward.”

Even if both small forwards, at 6-8, are taller than the big forward and occasional center, the 6-7 Green.

“You just can’t stop those guys like LeBron,” said Durant. ”They make good plays. They make shots at the rim. You can’t get discouraged.”

As one of the stars on a day of basketball stardom, Durant was anything but discouraged.

“It’s Christmas,” he reminded. ”There are so many people here happy. The spirit moves us.”

Fortunately, the spirit didn’t try to go inside against Durant or Draymond. He would have stopped moving.

8:17AM

S.F. Examiner: Forget the naysayers, the Warriors and Cavs deserve this

By Art Spander
San Francisco Examiner

OAKLAND — It’s all yours, America: Warriors-Cavaliers III, The Trilogy, the inevitability. You don’t like it? Tough beans. Too late.

You should have kept Kawhi Leonard healthy (although that wouldn’t have made a difference), Kept Isaiah Thomas healthy (although that wouldn’t have made a difference, either).Or kept Kevin Durant in Oklahoma and LeBron James out of Cleveland.

Read the full story here.

©2017 The San Francisco Examiner

9:28AM

Draymond: “We wanted to beat them”

By Art Spander

OAKLAND — Sure, it’s January and not June, as if that matters. And to Draymond Green and the other Warriors, it doesn’t. Will this one, this unmitigated stomping of the defending champion, the team that stole the crown, if you will, have an effect on the NBA finals six months down the long and winding road? Well ...

The basic rhetoric is that it won’t. Then again, it might. Look, the Dubs grabbed this one by the throat, did everything — and I mean everything, played defense, played offense, rebound aggressively — about as well as imaginable Monday night and overwhelmed the Cavs, 126-91, at the Oracle.

And after four straight losses to Cleveland, the last on Christmas Day as the Warriors fell apart in the final quarter, the other three in the playoffs, any win counted — wherever or whenever.

“I don’t think it’s about losing the last four,” said Draymond Green. “They want to beat us, and we want to beat them. That’s enough.”

And Monday, Martin Luther King Day, it was plenty. If that wasn’t the best game of the year, all things considered, including the opponent, it was a reasonable facsimile.

It was one that had fans begging for more — hey, the Dubs were up 39 and people were booing the officials’ calls — and had Warriors coach Steve Kerr using words like “phenomenal” to describe the performance. It even had the players allowing that they were satisfied, it not elated.

As for the Cavs coach, Tyronn Lue? He was defensive because of the way the Warriors played defense and Cleveland did not (the Dubs shot 50 percent, the Cavs 35 — “They missed 57 shots,” said a gleeful Kerr).

“What do you want us to do?” Lue asked rhetorically. “I mean they beat us. We lost one game ... I didn’t expect it like this.”

Now that Kevin Durant is a member of the Warriors, maybe he and we should expect it like that. The Big Three, Green, Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, is now the Big Four. And center Zaza Pachulia, who had 13 rebounds (as did Draymond) is not to be dismissed.

“When you try to take Klay and Steph out of the game,” said Lue, ”you’ve got someone who can go get a basket for himself, and at a high level, too.”

He also can keep someone, such as LeBron James, from getting a basket, Durant blocking James at the rim, a move that sent shockwaves through the Cavs and generated an explosion of noise from the crowd.

Green also had his hand in this one, because on a LeBron fast break he put his hand, and arm, on James. Boom. James went down, the fans went crazy, and there was a question whether Green might be whistled for a flagrant foul as had happened in the finals, when he had kicked one of the Cavs.

Play stopped while the refs viewed videos, and Green was given a technical, but that was about it. Other than message, if indeed there was one.

“I fouled to stop the break,” said Green “and he went down. Yeah, I think it’s a rivalry.”

What James, who was 6-of-18 for 20 points, thought was that the Warriors are “a dangerous team.” 

He didn’t mean physically dangerous, although for a moment there that appeared to be the situation. ”They’ve got so many different options,” said James.

The options Monday resulted in Klay scoring 26, Durant 21 and Curry 20. Along with his 13 boards, Green had 11 assists, as did Curry. This is the way coaches draw things up.

“I thought Steph was great,” said Kerr, “a phenomenal first half (when he had 14 points and 10 assists). His energy was great and he set the tone. He put a lot of pressure on the defense. Defensively, to put that kind of pressure on and to rebound as well as we did, we were finishing possessions.

“We wanted to win. We weren’t happy with our Cleveland game on Christmas Day. Any time you’re facing a team you know is one of the best in the league, you’re going to be up for it. We definitely were up for it.”

That‘s important any month of the year.

8:35AM

S.F. Examiner: Fans’ faith not enough against rejuvenated Cavs

By Art Spander
San Francisco Examiner

The crowd had come for a coronation, a celebration, an evening of noise and joy on which their basketball team, the Warriors, the record setters, the defending champions, would make it two titles in row, would start an NBA dynasty. But something was missing — maybe because someone was missing, Draymond Green.

And so the noise ebbed, the joy diminished. The coronation was put on hold.

Read the full story here.

©2016 The San Francisco Examiner