Headline Sports with London Marq: Sox move onto ALCS; Does LeBron have a supporting cast?; Steelers’ latest distraction; What’s up with Carr?

Photo credit: @TheClemReport

On the Headline Sports podcast with London:

#1 The Boston Red Sox took three out of four from the New York Yankees in the ALDS to move onto the ALCS to face the Houston Astros.

#2 How effective do you think LeBron James will be for the Los Angeles Lakers and does he have the support around him?

#3 At 10:08 AM on April 24th, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Antonio Brown threw large items including two vases and furniture from 14 floors above nearly hitting a grandfather and his two-year grandson. Brown was upset that he was accused of stealing $80,000 and a gun. Brown said he has been followed by the fans and media since the incident as he currently faces two lawsuits for “‘damages in excess of $15,000,’ exclusive of’ attorney fees and interest.”

#4 The Oakland Raiders fell to 1-4 after a 26-10 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers. Chargers quarterback Phillip Rivers threw for 339 yards along with 22-27 completed passes.

#5 Raiders quarterback Derek Carr got sacked three times and turned the ball over twice.

London Marq does the Headline Sports podcasts each Wednesday at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

Lakers pull away in the final minute to beat the Kings 128-123 Thursday night

Swipa vs LA
Mr. Fox put up a quick 18 points in the game Photo: @SacramentoKings

By Charlie O. Mallonee

Thursday night was an exciting night for NBA starved basketball fans in Sacramento. The Kings traveled to Los Angeles to take on King James and the Lakers in a preseason affair. The keyword in that sentence is “preseason.”

The number one goal in a preseason game is not to win. Now, these are professional athletes, and they hate to lose at anything, anytime. However, the preseason is about getting players working together, learning the playbook, seeing how different combinations play as a unit, and deciding who make the open spots on the roster.

Understanding those parameters explains the final score of 128-123 with the Lakers coming out on top. There were moments where defense came into play, but it certainly did not look like the type of defense you will see in the regular season. No one wants to go into the regular season battered and bruised.

Kings

  • Marvin Bagley III led the Kings with 19 points and 10 rebounds in 31 minutes on the floor.
  • De’Aaron Fox put on quite a show, scoring 18 points and dishing five assists in just 18 minutes of playing time.
  • Buddy Hield recorded 16 points in just 20 minutes of PT. Hield hit 4-of-8 from 3-point range.
  • Harry Giles III posted 14 points and grabbed seven rebounds in 24-plus minutes.
  • Wenyen Gabriel was the Kings’ other double-digit scorer with 10 points.
  • Sacramento shot 45.5-percent (45/99) from the field; 41.9-percent (13/31) from beyond the arc and hauled in 41 rebounds (9 offensive boards). The had 27 assists and turned the ball over 15 times.
MBIII vs LA
MBIII5 led Kings in scoring Photo: @SacramentoKings

Lakers

  • Brandon Ingram led the Lakers scoring attack with 31 points and nine rebounds. After the game, King James praised Ingram for his performance and effort.
  • Speaking of the King, he put in 18 points in just over 15 minutes on the court. James played some time at the five spot for the Lakers in the game.
  • Kyle Kuzma and Josh Hart scored 17 points each.
  • Los Angeles shot 52.6-percent (41/78) from the floor and 30-percent (6/30) from long-range. The pulled down 48 rebounds, had 19 assists and turned the ball over 18 times.

In typical preseason fashion, there were 24 lead changes in the contest and the game was tied 12 times.

Up Next

The Kings will be back on the floor Friday night in Seattle to take on the Golden State Warriors. The Seattle fans will be anxious to see Kevin Durant. They will also have a chance to see a Kings team that almost moved to Seattle.

The Lakers host the Clippers on Saturday night.

Harry meet the King
Mr. Giles meets the Kings Photo: @SacramentoKings

LeBron takes his talents to the Southland; Signs with Lakers for four years and $154 million

nba.com photo: LeBron James as a Laker in painted form is up for a four year stint with the Lakers

By Joe Hawkes Beamon and Jerry Feitelberg

The much anticipated moment is over as predicted LeBron James has signed a four-year, $154 million deal with the Los Angeles Lakers as the Lakers try to light the fuse on a franchise that has lagged since superstar Kobe Bryant retired. The Lakers have not been in the playoffs since 2013.

James, who has played most of his career with the Cleveland Cavaliers, will leave the team for the second time the first time was when he left for the Miami Heat. LeBron will be entering his 16th NBA season with three NBA Championship rings and four MVPs under his belt. LeBron is confident he can help establish some headway with the Lakers to make them great again.

After this last season’s Championship Final against Golden State, James looked to cry “Uncle” and wanted a change of scenery and looks at the Lakers as an organization that will build toward an NBA Championship Finals team. James makes L.A. his offseason home.

The Lakers are a young team the average player’s age is 25, James (33) will almost be like a player-coach with the young guys on the floor but he will seek assurances from the Lakers organization to get two or three veterans to make that extra push to get the Lakers to be a deep playoff team.

With the signing of James, Kawhi Leonard has expressed interest in joining the Lakers after he said he was no longer going to play for the San Antonio Spurs. Leonard could very well be one of the key building blocks the Lakers are looking towards in getting some experience on their roster.

Joe Hawkes Beamon and Jerry Feitelberg cover the NBA for http://www.sportsradioservice.com

Team LeBron defeats Team Stephen with late 148-145 victory

~ Photo credit: @YahooSportsNBA

~ By Pearl Allison Lo

~ It came to the final shot at Staples Center as Team LeBron came back for a 148-145 victory in the premier of non-conference teams in the NBA All-Star Game Sunday.

Stephen Curry and then DeMar DeRozan had the ball looking for a three to tie, but due to tough defense, were unable to put up a shot before the buzzer.

The underdog Team Stephen led for the majority of the game. For the most part, when Team LeBron did get the lead, it was short-lived.

James tied the game at 144 apiece with 1:30 left and that score held until 40.2 seconds left. DeRozan put Team Stephen up by one when he made one of two free throws.

After a Team LeBron timeout, James gave his team the lead for good with 34.5 seconds left. Russell Westbrook put the final points up when he took a long pass by James to the basket. Westbook commented, “We got stops when we needed to.”

Captain LeBron James won his third All-Star Game MVP title, with 29 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists. He won $350K for his charity After School All Stars and Team Stephen earned $150K for Brotherhood Crusade.

DeRozan and Damian Lillard led Team Steph with 21 points apiece. Stephen Curry finished with 11 points.

Jimmy Butler was the only All-Star not to play.

After the second, Team LeBron shot above 50% from the field and Team Steph above 40%.

The first quarter saw a bit of a rough start or nervous energy, with five bad passes from the teams in just over a minute.  Team Steph had two 7-0 runs, the latter run part of an 11-2 run to close the first.

Karl-Anthony Towns was the only double-digit scorer, with 11 points.

Team Steph’s heat continued in the second until Team LeBron made their way back from beyond the arc with three straight three’s, two from the Captain and one from Kemba Walker. Kevin Durant pulled Team LeBron to within one 51-52 with 7:15 left. James followed with a reverse dunk over a minute later to give his team their first lead since 7:48 left in the first. It was short-lived though, as Joel Embiid reasserted Team Stephen’s lead.

Team Steph put together an 11-0 run with four minutes left. This included Curry’s first field goal and one of Klay Thompson’s threes. Team LeBron then went on a 7-0 run and chipped at Team Steph’s lead. Team Steph was stopped from crossing half court twice in the waning seconds as the teams headed to the lockers with a two-point difference, 76-78.

Giannis Antetokounmpo had a block with 9:53 left that was called for goaltending. Thompson scored 12 points in the second, all off three’s, with three consecutive when he had the ball.

Durant started off the third with a three that gave Team Lebron a short-lived 79-78 lead. Team Stephen replied with a 9-0 run.

Durant took to the free throw line for Team LeBron’s first free throws with 8:17 left.  

Team LeBron finally saw their lead last for more than one possession when Kemba Walker made it 109-105. Then Team Steph responded with a 7-0 run to close out the third, two threes by Curry.

Team Steph continued with a 6-2 run to start the fourth. They went on a 9-0 run with 8:28 left. Kyle Lowry had two points and two assists, DeRozan two free throws and Lillard five points.

Team LeBron kept in it with an 8-0 run with 5:06 left. James had a layup, free throw and Westbrook two free throws.

The game also had some instant replay action after James’ 144-144 score when the ball went out of bounds and the referee was checking to see if the ball went off Embiid or Durant.  

Game notes: Team Steph outrebounded Team LeBron 68-49. Thompson finished with 15 points and Golden State Warriors teammates Draymond Green had three points off free throws and a game-high tying two blocks, Durant with 19 points and a game-high tying three steals. Embiid also had two blocks. Towns matched James with a game-high 10 rebounds. Lowry and Victor Oladipo also had three steals. Lillard finished +18. Bradley Beal, Paul George and James led with four threes apiece.

Carmelo who? Prozingis leads NYK past the Kings 118-91 Saturday night in NYC

by Charlie O. Mallonee

NYK Skal
Labissiere Kings leading scorer

The Sacramento Kings two game winning streak came to a sudden end on Saturday night at Madison Square Garden in New York City when the Knicks – led by power forward Kristaps Porzingis – blew by the men in purple and white 118-91.

Early on, it looked like the Kings might make it a competitive game. By halftime, the Knicks (7-5) held a 64-49 lead. New York put together two big runs in the first half to establish the 15-point halftime lead.

The Knicks did not back off in the third quarter as they held the Kings under 20-points and extended their lead. In fact, NYK became so comfortable about their lead they sat Prozingis down in the third quarter and he never reentered the contest.

The Kings (3-9) and Knicks second units made the fourth quarter interesting but Sacramento was unable to cut into the big New York lead. When the final buzzer sounded, the Knicks continued to impress the professional basketball world by playing so well without Carmelo Anthony on the team.

Prozingis continues to be “the man”

NYK Prozingis
Prozingis drives on Cauley-Stein Photo: Newsday

Second-year player – Kristaps Prozingis scored 34 points in just 26:37 minutes of playing time. He went 11-for-21 from the floor while hitting 4-of-6 from behind the 3-point line. Prozingis converted 8-of-9 opportunities from the free throw line. While accomplishing all of that, he committed zero turnovers.

11 Knicks players contributed to the win over the Kings

Sacramento Kings v New York Knicks
Kanter posts a double-double 17 points 13 rebounds

Courtney Lee put up 20 points hitting 5-of-6 from 3-point land. He also added three assists and two rebounds.

Enes Kanter posted a double-double with 17 points and 13 boards. He shot 8-for-13 from the floor.

Damyean Dotson scored 14 points and Michael Beasley added 10 points.

Highly touted rookie point guard Frank Ntilkina scored just two points while posting five assists.

Sacramento had just two player score in double figures

nyk Prozingis again
Sacramento vs. NYK

Skal Labissiere became a force on offense again for the Kings as he recorded 19-points to lead his team in scoring for the game. The Kentucky product shot 5-for-10 from the field while going just 1-for-9 from behind the 3-point arc. Labissiere converted 9-of-10 free throw opportunities. He also grabbed six rebounds.

Buddy Hield came off the bench to score 17-points in 27-minutes of playing time. He went 6-for-13 shooting overall while hitting 4-of-5 from 3-point land. Hield also hauled in seven rebounds and dished out four assists.

No Sacaramento starter scored in double-figures.

Up next

$Wiz Dark

The Kings will play the second game of their three-game road trip on Monday night in Washington, D.C. The Wizards destroyed the Kings 110-83 in Sacramento on October 29th.

The Knicks will also return to actions on Monday when they will welcome LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers to Madison Square Garden. That game will have Eastern Conference Playoff implications.

On to Game five if you’re Golden State

Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant (35) shoots past Cleveland Cavaliers center Tristan Thompson (13) during the second half of Game 4 of basketball’s NBA Finals in Cleveland, Friday, June 9, 2017. Cleveland won 137-116. (Ronald Martinez/Pool Photo via AP)

By Joe Hawkes-Beamon
Sports Radio Service Writer

CLEVELAND, OH — The closeout games are always the toughest to win.

The Golden State Warriors were 48 minutes from basketball immortality when they entered Game 4  of the NBA Finals with a chance to send the Cleveland Cavaliers home for the summer, but the Cavaliers used lead wire-to-wire for a 137-116 win Friday night at Quicken Loans Arena to force Game 5 in Oakland on Monday night at Oracle Arena.

The loss snaps Golden State’s postseason record 15 straight wins, denying the Warriors of becoming the first team in NBA history to go through the postseason undefeated at 16-0.

Give the Cavaliers credit, they weren’t ready to see the Warriors celebrate another championship on their home floor as Golden State did back in 2015 when they defeated Cleveland in six games to capture the franchise’s first championship in 40 years.

LeBron James, who passed former Los Angeles Lakers great and hall of famer Magic Johnson for the most triple-doubles in the Finals with his 31-point, 10-rebound and 11-assist effort, finished 11-for-22 from the floor.

James led Cleveland with 39 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists in Cleveland’s heartbreaking loss to the Warriors 118-113 in Game 3  on Wednesday night after Cleveland led by six with three minutes left in the game before Golden State went on an 11-0 run to take a 3-0 lead in the best-of-7 series.

But don’t blink now, but the Cavaliers find themselves in the same predicament this year as they did last year: down 3-1 heading back to the West Coast trying to stave off elimination and we all know what happened.

The Cavaliers won Game 5 in Oakland, Game 6 in Cleveland, and the clinching Game 7 on the Warriors’ home floor for the Cavaliers’ first championship in franchise history, and the first major championship for Northeast Ohio since 1964.

Cleveland obliterated the record book for the Finals in Game 4, having the highest-scoring first quarter (49 points) and first half (86 points) and the most 3-pointers (24) in Finals history.

Kyrie Irving turned in another spectacular game, scoring a game-high 40 points on 15-for-27 shooting, including 7-for-12 from beyond the 3-point line.

But Game 4 was a lot closer than the final score indicated.

Both teams got 87 shots up, but Cleveland shot a blistering 52.9-percent (46-for-87) from the floor, compared to Golden State’s 44.8-percent (39-for-87).

Cleveland slightly out-rebounded Golden State 56-52, thanks largely to Tristan Thompson’s 10 rebounds after having just nine in Games 1-3 combined. The Warriors made keeping Thompson off the boards in the series a priority after averaging double-digit rebounds in the two previous Finals meetings between the teams.

For Golden State, you gotta turn the page from Game 4 and focus on Game 5 after letting the opportunity for a sweep slip through their fingers.

Kevin Durant, one victory away from his first championship, finished with 35 points on 9-for-22 shooting. It was Durant’s fourth-straight 30-point game of the series, but the Splash Brothers picked a bad night to have their quietest game of the Finals, combining for only 27 points on 8-for-24 from the floor (6-for-19 on 3s)

Cleveland did a great job of harassing Curry in Game 4, double-teaming and trapping the two-time league MVP whenever he got the ball.

Curry never got in a groove offensively, shooting 4-for-13 from the floor and a putrid 2-for-9 from the 3-point line while recording 10 assists after finishing with 26 points, 13 rebounds and six assists in Game 3.

Klay Thompson finished with 13 points on 4-for-11 shooting. All of Thompson’s makes were from beyond the 3-point line, converting 4-for-10. Thompson’s 30 points were instrumental in Golden State’s Game 3 win.

Draymond Green had 16 points and 14 rebounds and was part of a crazy set of events in the third quarter that led two technical fouls, and a friend of James being escorted from the arena.

It was announced in the third quarter that Green had assessed his second technical foul, prompting security onto the floor to escort Green back to the locker room. But the officials confirmed that Green’s technical foul in the first half was actually given to Warriors head coach Steve Kerr, which was even more confusing.

Then, Warriors center Zaza Pachulia was involved in a pileup where he appeared to swipe Cavaliers forward Iman Shumpert int he groin area. Pachulia should’ve been ejected from the game, but was given a technical foul along with Shumpert.

A total of seven technical fouls and one flagrant foul were handed down in Game 4.

There will be a lot said and written about the Cavaliers dominance over the Warriors in Game 4 over the next 48 hours, whether its opinions or jokes. Cleveland were the aggressor from start to finish for 48 minutes and that can’t be glossed over. Golden State knows what type of team that the Cavaliers are.

The Cavaliers were simply the better team Friday night, a rarity for the opponent to be better than Golden State.

Keep this in mind: one loss isn’t the end of the world for Golden State. The Warriors are still firmly in control of the series and are 31-1 in their last 32 games dating back to the regular season. Golden State is still the superior team and most people don’t expect a sub par performance from the Warriors’ core in Game 5 on Monday night.

But Golden State’s first lost this postseason does leave the door slightly ajar for Cleveland heading back to the 510 area code.

 

 

Durant and Warriors one win away from title

Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant (35) passes around Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) during the first half of Game 3 of basketball’s NBA Finals in Cleveland, Wednesday, June 7, 2017. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

By Joe Hawkes-Beamon
Sports Radio Service Writer

CLEVELAND, OH — Kevin Durant’s 31 points, including a clutch 3-pointer with 45.3 left in the fourth quarter propelled the Golden State Warriors to within 48 minutes of their second title in three years with a 118-113 win in Game 3 of the NBA Finals at Quicken Loans Arena over the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Durant signed with Golden State last summer after nine seasons with the Oklahoma City Thunder for an opportunity to finally capture that elusive championship ring that he so desperately seeks.

Trailing by six with 2:45 left in the fourth quarter, Golden State closed out the game on a 11-0 run with Durant scoring 14 points in the final quarter. Golden State tightened up the defense during that stretch, holding Cleveland to 0-for-8 from the floor.

When you combine the 16-1 finish to the regular season, and the NBA-record 15 straight postseason victories (including tonight’s come-from-behind victory), Golden State is 30-1 in their last 31 games. Golden State owns the longest postseason winning streak among the four major professional sports.

That sounds great and all, but that is not the ultimate prize that the Warriors are playing for with a commanding 3-0 lead in hand over the Cavaliers in the best-of-7 NBA Finals.

If the Warriors can close out the series in Friday night’s Game 4, Golden State will become the only team in NBA history to finish the postseason unblemished at 16-0 and denying Cleveland their second-straight championship. Cleveland engineered the greatest comeback in NBA Finals’ history when they stormed back last year and won the title from Golden State after the Warriors claimed a 3-1 lead.

The Warriors haven’t forgotten that sickening feeling of seeing Cleveland celebrating on Golden State’s home floor in Game 7 last year. Cleveland denied Golden State (who also won an NBA-record 73 games) the opportunity of winning back-to-back titles after Golden State won the 2015 NBA Championship over the Cavaliers in six games.

Now, Golden State is looking to return the favor and drive a stake through the Cavaliers’ heart by potentially sweeping them this year. No team has ever come back to win the NBA Finals when trailing 3-0.

Durant finished 10-for-18 from the floor, to go along with 4-for-7 on 3s, and joined Michael Jordan and Shaquille O’Neal as the only players in league history to average 25-plus points per game in their first eight games in the Finals according to ESPN Stats and Information.

Klay Thompson scored 21 of his 30 points in the first half and Stephen Curry finished with 24 for Golden State. Curry finished with six assists, and had 13 of the team’s 44 rebounds out-rebounding Cleveland (37) in the process.

Golden State knocked down a Finals’ record nine 3-pointers in the first quarter. After making a Finals’ record 18-of-43 3-pointers in Game 2, Golden State remained hot on 3s going 16-for-33 in Game 3. Thompson made a team-high six 3s.

Golden State shot 48-percent (40-for-83) from the floor on the night.

Ditto from the free throw line.

As in Game 2 when the Warriors shot 22-for-24  from the free throw line, Golden State hit the replay button and shot 22-for-24 in Game 3.

Cleveland finds themselves on the brink of a sweep after giving Golden State their best punch of the series in Game 3.

LeBron James, who is averaging a triple-double so far in the series, nearly had another triple-double with 39 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists. James tied his personal best for points in a Finals half with 27 points, while Kyrie Irving resurfaced his game, scoring 16 of his 38 points in the third quarter.

James and Irving left everything on the court in Game 4 for Cleveland, combining to shoot 31-for-56 from the floor and helped Cleveland out-score Golden State 33-22 in the third quarter, but it still wasn’t enough for a Cavaliers team that shot a 44-percent from the field (40-for-90).

J.R. Smith added 16 points after scoring just three points total in the first two games of the series, while Kevin Love struggled in Game 3 mustering just nine points on 1-for-9 shooting.

Cleveland was an iceberg from the 3-point line, shooting a dismal 12-for-44 (27-percent) on 3s, and allowed Golden State to rack up 29 assists to Cleveland’s 17.

After winning the first two games of the series by a combined 41 points and not yielding a second half lead until Cleveland took a 71-69 in the third quarter, Golden State needed all 48 minutes to outlast Cleveland Wednesday night.

 

 

 

 

Curry and Durant sizzle in Game two to put Warriors up 2-0 in Kerr’s return

Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant, center, celebrates with Draymond Green, left, and Klay Thompson during the second half of Game 2 of basketball’s NBA Finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers in Oakland, Calif., Sunday, June 4, 2017. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

By Joe Hawkes-Beamon
Sports Radio Service Writer

OAKLAND, Calif — Kevin Durant followed up his 38-point, eight-assist and eight-rebound performance from Game 1 with 33 points, 13 rebounds and six assists, and Stephen Curry recorded his first career postseason triple-double to help the Golden State Warriors take a 2-0 lead in the NBA Finals with a 132-113 win in Game 2 of the NBA Finals on Sunday night in front of another sold out, energetic crowd at Oracle Arena in head coach Steve Kerr’s return to the bench.

Kerr missed the last 11 games of the playoffs dating back to Game 2 of the first round of the Western Conference playoffs against the Portland Trailblazers with complications from back surgery nearly two years ago.

“Well, it’s been a great run but none of that matters unless we can finish the job with this series,” Kerr said postgame. “Trust me, we know. It was 2-0 last year, we lost.”

Golden State was in the same position last year, up 2-0, the going up 3-1, before the roof collapsed in on the Warriors’ season and the greatest comeback in NBA Finals history was authored by the Cavaliers, who stole the title in seven games costing the Warriors a chance for the repeat after winning the title in 2015.

In Games 1 and 2 of last year’s Finals, Golden State won both games by a combined 48 points. In the first two games of the Finals this year, the Warriors have defeated Cleveland by a combined 41 points this season according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

But this year is different.

It feels different, especially with Durant, a near-seven-foot scoring machine that has vastly improved defensively in Year 1 with the Warriors.

Durant shot 13-for-22 from the floor and was nearly unstoppable for most of the 41 minutes he was on the court tonight, while Curry scored 32 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds pulling Golden State within two wins of their second championship in three years.

Durant had five of Golden State’s seven blocks, and three of the team’s five steals.

At 14-0, Golden State is trying to become the first team in league history to go unbeaten on the way to the title. The Warriors currently have the longest postseason win streak in NBA history.

Curry made 7-for-17 from the floor, while connecting on 4-for-11 on 3s, but did most of his damage from the free throw line converting 14-for-14 from the charity stripe in 36 minutes.

The two-time league MVP put on a dribbling display on LeBron James in the third quarter where he drove past the three-time NBA Champion and scored as part of a 16-6 run to close out the quarter and the Warriors never looked back, carrying a 102-88 lead going into the fourth quarter.

Klay Thompson, who had been struggling shooting the ball throughout the postseason but has played superb defense in the previous 13 games, added 22 points on 8-for-12 from the floor to go along with 4-for-7 from behind the three-point line. Thompson added seven rebounds for Golden State, who also shot 18-for-43 on 3s.

Draymond Green had 12 points, six assists and six rebounds, but picked up three personal fouls within the first 11 minutes of the game and only played 25 minutes.

As a team, Golden State shot a blistering 51-percent (46-for-89) from the floor and shot 22-for-24 from the free throw line, while out-rebounding Cleveland 53-41 in the game.

The Cavaliers can hang their hat on the fact that they did force 20 turnovers after only forcing four in Game 1. For a team that didn’t record a single steal in Game 1, Cleveland had four within the game’s first seven minutes before finishing with a 15-5 edge.

“We turned the ball over too much in the first half. But the second half, I think we settled in, tried to play simple and defensively just tried to contest their shots,” Durant said after the game.

Curry had eight of those turnovers and was two away from having a dubious quadruple-double. His 10 first-quarter free throws matched a playoff record for made shots from the stripe in one period shared with Sarunas Marciulionis done on April 28, 1992, at Seattle. It also matched Paul Pierce for most in a Finals quarter according to ESPN Stats and Information.

LeBron James was Cleveland’s best player once again, matching Curry’s triple-double with one of his own, scoring 29 points, 14 assists and 11 rebounds in 39 minutes. James played spectacular, but appeared gassed in the fourth quarter with fatigue etched on his face.

According to ESPN Stats and Information, James and Curry became just the second opposing players in NBA postseason history to record a triple-double in the same game, joining Lew Alcindor (38 points/23 rebounds/11 assists) and Walt “Clyde” Frazier (10 points/12 rebounds/14 assists), who recorded their performances in Game 2 of the 1970 Eastern Division Finals won by Frazier’s Knicks, 112-111.

Frazier’s Knicks would win that series, 4-1, and go on and win the title defeating, Wilt Chamberlain and the Los Angeles Lakers in seven games.

James was 12-for-18 from the floor, while Kevin Love added 27 points and seven rebounds on 12-for-23 shooting.

After 24 points on 10-for-22 shooting for Kyrie Irving in Game 1, Irving managed just 19 points and struggled to find the basket shooting just eight-for-23. Irving was defended aggressively by the Warriors, forcing Irving into taking tough layups and jumpers.

Cleveland shot 45-for-100 (45-percent) from the field for the game, but struggled from 3, shooting just 8-for-29 (27-percent) from deep. The Cavaliers shot 3-for-20 from the three-point line in the first half.

With the series now shifting to Cleveland for Games 3 and 4, the Cavaliers will have to regroup if they want to get any momentum because the Warriors are firmly in the series’ driver seat.

J.R. Smith had zero points as the starting shooting guard, and Kyle Korver led Cleveland’s bench with just eight points, which equaled starting center Tristan Thompson’s offensive output on the night.

Lineup changes for Cleveland could be a possibility, or better yet, should be made. If you’re Cleveland head coach Tyronn Lue, you need to do something to shake up the players.

Cleveland already knows the production that they will get from James, Love and Irving on most nights, but the Cavaliers need to get other players involved or this series could become too much of a mountain to climb.

 

 

 

 

 

 

NBA Finals: More from Durant and the defense will go a long way for Warriors’ title hopes

Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant (35) in Game 1 of the NBA Finals in Oakland, Calif., Thursday, June 1, 2017. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

By Joe Hawkes-Beamon
Sports Radio Service Writer

OAKLAND, Calif — The basketball world was on pins and needles for the start of Round Three between the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals, and both teams lived up to the hype for the majority of Game 1 Thursday night before Kevin Durant and the Warriors took control and ran away with the victory, 113-91.

Durant, who many pundits questioned his decision to join a high-powered Warriors team that had already played in two Finals prior to his arrival, showed out in his first Finals game since 2012 as a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder; pouring in a game-high 38 points, eight rebounds, and eight assists to go along with zero turnovers on 14-for-26 shooting from the floor.

Not since the great Michael Jordan during the 1998 NBA Finals against the Utah Jazz that a player had at least 30 points, five assists, and zero turnovers in a game before Durant’s acts in Game 1 according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

But an epic performance on the NBA’s biggest stage is what we expect from Durant, a former league MVP, is it not?

Golden State already has a two-time league MVP (and the only unanimous MVP in league history) in Stephen Curry, who looks healthier as ever at this time this year than he did in last year’s Finals after adding 28 points, 10 assists, and six rebounds in Game 1, including 6-for-11 on 3s.

Add in Draymond Green (nine points and 11 rebounds), an odds on favorite to take home the league’s Defensive Player of the Year award this season after leading the NBA in steals per game (2.03), to go along with Klay Thompson, who despite shooting under 40-percent from both the floor (36-percent) and from beyond the three-point line (34-percent) during the postseason, was Golden State’s best defender in Game 1 holding would-be scorers to 1-for-12 shooting from the floor as the primary defender.

With all due respect to Harrison Barnes, who had a breakout season in Year 1 for the Mavericks averaging a career-high 19.2 points per game and was a fan favorite for all of Dub Nation, but his no-show during last year’s Finals (most notably in Games 5-7 where he scored just 15 points on 5-for-32 shooting (3-for-15 on 3s) after Golden State had a commanding 3-1 lead in the series still stings Warriors’ fans.

But Durant is clearly the difference-maker and much better upgrade from Barnes this year for the Warriors and will continue to be a huge match-up problem for Cleveland with Game 2 Sunday night at Oracle Arena at 5:00 p.m. PDT on the horizon.

And that’s even with first-ballot hall of famer LeBron James on the other side.

Circle back to Game 1: When Durant was on the floor, the Warriors out-scored Cleveland by 18, and in the 40 minutes that James was on the floor, the Warriors out-scored Cleveland by 22, with much of the damage coming in the second half for Golden State.

I counted at least six times in the first half of Game 1 where Cleveland’s defense just allowed Durant to cruise through the lane like he had a FasTrak embedded in his jersey for easy dunks.

At times in the game, it almost appeared that Cleveland were content on allowing Durant score at will and didn’t want to be burned by Golden State’s shooting.

Golden State shot 45-for-106 (42-percent) from the floor.

Making his NBA record seventh-consecutive Finals appearance, James was Cleveland’s most effective player, finishing with a team-high 28 points, 15 rebounds, and eight assists, but made just 9-for-20 from the floor.

If James could’ve recorded two more assists, he would’ve tied Lakers’ legend and NBA Hall of Famer Magic Johnson for the most triple-doubles in Finals history with eight, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Johnson led Los Angeles to nine Finals appearances and won five championships as the leader of the “Showtime” Lakers of the 1980s. Johnson’s teams were 5-4 in the Finals while James’s teams are just 3-4.

Outside of Kyrie Irving’s 24 points on 10-for-22 shooting from the floor, the defending NBA Champions’ supporting cast came up empty in Game 1.

Kevin Love did have 15 points and a game-high 21 rebounds, but shot just 4-for-13 from the floor.

The Warriors’ bench barely out-scored the Cavaliers’ bench 24-21.

Cleveland can’t let Golden State have their way with them in Game 2 as they did in Game 1  if they have any chance of gaining a split in Oakland before the series shifts to Northeast Ohio for Games 3 and 4 on Wednesday and Friday.

Golden State held the advantage in points-in-the-paint, out-scoring the Cavaliers 56-30 and dominating the fast-break, out-scoring Cleveland 27-9.

As a team, Cleveland shot 30-for-86 (34-percent) from the floor.

The 20 turnovers the Cavaliers committed that led to 21 points for Golden State was a testament to their superb defense they’ve collectively played all season long, forcing teams to shoot a league-low 43-percent from the field and finished tops in turnovers forced per game with 14.8 during the regular season.

In the postseason, Golden State is ratcheting up the defense intensity allowing just 41-percent from the floor through 13 games.

Not surprisingly, Golden State is 13-0 in the postseason this year, three wins from securing their second championship in three years.

Durant will have his fingerprints on the outcome of the Finals, believe that.

Win or lose.

Extra Dribbles commentary: Warriors rise up at home to take Game 1 of NBA Finals

Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant (35) against the Cleveland Cavaliers during the second half of Game 1 of basketball’s NBA Finals in Oakland, Calif., Thursday, June 1, 2017. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

By Joe Hawkes-Beamon
Sports Radio Service Writer

OAKLAND, Calif — Kevin Durant scored a game-high 38 points and was clearly the best player on the court as Golden State finished tied for an NBA Finals record-low four turnovers in taking a 1-0 lead in the best-of-7 NBA Finals with a 113-91 win Thursday night in Game 1 in front of a sold out Oracle Arena crowd over the defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers.

Game 2 is Sunday at 5:00 p.m. PDT back at Oracle Arena on ABC.

This match-up marks the first time in NBA history that two teams have met each other in the Finals in three consecutive seasons.

Durant finished the game 10-of-18 from the floor to go along with eight assists and eight rebounds in his first NBA Finals game since Game 5 of the 2012 series against the Miami Heat as a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Miami denied Durant and the Thunder a championship by taking the championship in five games and it took Durant five years to get back to the NBA’s ultimate stage.

Durant and the Warriors got anything they wanted in the paint, outscoring the Cavaliers 56-30 inside. There were times that Cleveland’s defense just parted the seas for a Durant dunk as the defense would collapsed on Golden State’s deadly shooters, allowing Durant to easy access to the basket.

”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 after the game. ”I think we just locked in from the second quarter on.”

Golden State would outscore Cleveland 53-38 in the second half to go along with 31 assists for the game.

Stephen Curry was locked in for Game 1, scoring  28 points with six 3-pointers on 11-of-22 from the field. Curry added 10 assists and six rebounds for a Warriors that improved to 13-0 during the playoffs this year.

LeBron James poured in 28 points, 15 rebounds and eight assists for Cleveland, who had 20 turnovers in Game 1. James’ southern California home was vandalized and had the N-word spray painted on the gate on Wednesday.

“At the end of the day, we had 20 turnovers,” James said. “We got to clean that up.”

James’ teams drop to 1-7 all-time in Game 1s of the NBA Finals.

The Cavaliers’ forward is making his league-record seventh Finals appearance this year.

Kyrie Irving scored 24 points on 10-of-22 shooting from the field, while Kevin Love finished with 15 points and a game-high 21 rebounds. Love shot 4-of-13 from the field.

The Warriors had a 60-52 lead at halftime thanks in large part to the 27-9 fastbreak edge and committing just one turnover in the first half.

Curry’s 14 points in the third quarter prove to be the difference-maker for Golden State Thursday night.

Golden State out-shot Cleveland (42.5-percent to 34.9-percent) for the game.