Highlights from Warriors’ 2018-19 schedule

The Golden State Warriors’ quest for a three-peat begins on Oct. 16 against the Oklahoma City Thunder at Oracle Arena.

The NBA released the 2018-19 schedule Friday. Here are some highlights from the Warriors’ upcoming season.

  • Russell Westbrook and Paul George will get front-row seats when the Warriors raise the banner for a second straight year and third time in four seasons. 
  • After facing the Thunder, the Warriors open the road portion of their schedule with games at Utah and Denver. 
  • The Warriors play the first of four games against the Houston Rockets on Nov. 15 at the Toyota Center. The Rockets visit Oracle on Jan. 3 and Feb. 23. The series concludes in Houston on March 13.
  • The Warriors return to Cleveland to face a very different Cavaliers on Dec. 5.
  • LeBron James faces Golden State for the first time as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers on Christmas at Oracle. The Warriors visit James and the Staples Center for the first time on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. 
  • The Warriors’ longest homestand is a five-game stretch over 11 days and it occurs between Halloween and Nov. 10. 
  • The Warriors’ longest road trip is a five-game stretch over 11 days and it occurs between Jan. 18 and Jan. 28. 
  • The Boston Celtics and the Philadelphia 76ers are expected to duke it out for the rights to lose to Golden State in the 2019 NBA Finals. The Warriors host the 76ers on Jan. 31 and the Celtics on March 5. The Celtics host the Warriors on Jan. 26 and the 76ers will do the same on March 2. 
  • The Warriors will be on national television 28 times. 
  • The Warriors have 13 back-to-backs, down one from last season.
  • The Warriors will travel 50,430 miles, an increase of 120 from last season. 
  • With the Warriors moving across the Bay to Chase Center for the 2019-20 season, the final regular-season home game at Oracle Arena is on April 7 against the Los Angeles Clippers. 
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Seattle highlights Warriors’ preseason schedule

After traveling to China for two exhibition games last October, the Golden State Warriors will stay in the same time zone for all five this year.

The two-time reigning NBA champions will play a trio of preseason games in the Bay Area, two at Oracle Arena and one at the SAP Center in San Jose. The Warriors will travel to Seattle and Las Vegas for the other two contests. 

The Warriors open the preseason on Sep. 29 at Oracle against the Minnesota Timberwolves. The first 10,000 fans will receive a bobblehead featuring Draymond Green decked in official championship gear along with the three Larry O’Brien trophies the team has won in the last four years. 

The second preseason game on Oct. 5 will have special meaning for Kevin Durant. The Warriors will travel to Seattle to host the Sacramento Kings at KeyArena. Durant was drafted second overall in the 2007 NBA Draft by the then-Seattle Supersonics. Durant won Rookie of the Year in his lone season in the Pacific Northwest. The Sonics would relocate to Oklahoma City in the offseason.

After what should be an emotional meaningless affair in Seattle, the Warriors return home to face the Phoenix Suns on Oct. 8. The Suns feature superstar Devin Booker, former Houston Rocket Trevor Ariza and Deandre Ayton, the first overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft. The first 10,000 fans will receive a bobblehead featuring the three Larry O’Brien trophies and Stephen Curry in his parade day outfit. The first unanimous MVP was decked out in a Run TMC hat and shorts that styled after the Warriors’ uniforms during his rookie season.

The Warriors then close out the preseason with two games against the Los Angeles Lakers. The first will be held at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Oct. 10. After a day off, the two teams will reconvene at the SAP Center. The first 10,000 fans will receive a bobblehead featuring Durant decked out as a San Jose Sharks goalie. 

The Warriors’ quest for a rare three-peat begins on Oct. 16 against the Oklahoma City Thunder at Oracle Arena.

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Soon to be a Warrior: DeMarcus Cousins

The Los Angeles Lakers acquired LeBron James, Rajon Rondo, Lance Stephenson and JaVale McGee in their attempt to compete with the Golden State Warriors. The two-time defending NBA champions countered with DeMarcus Cousins.

According to Adrian Wojnarowski‏ of ESPN, Cousins agreed on Monday to a one-year contract worth $5.337 million with Golden State. The Warriors used their taxpayer mid-level exception to sign one of the most dynamic players in the NBA.

Before suffering a season-ending Achilles injury in late January, Cousins was playing at the highest level he’s ever played at since he entered the league in 2010.

In 48 games played with the New Orleans Pelicans, Cousins averaged 25.2 points on 47.0 percent shooting, career-high 12.9 rebounds, career-high 5.4 assists, 1.6 steals and 1.6 blocks. He is a two-time All-NBA Second Team selection and four-time All-Star. Cousins was selected to start the All-Star Game for the first time this past season.

A ruptured Achilles tendon usually takes up to a year to fully recover from, so Cousins is most likely not available at the start of the season. When Cousins is ready to play, he adds a dimension from the center position that the Warriors have not had in their championship runs.

After making just 11 of 69 (15.9 percent) 3-pointers in his first five seasons, Cousins has added the 3-point shot to his already diverse game. In the past two-and-a-half seasons, Cousins has taken 867 3-pointers and making them at a more than respectable 35.2 percent clip.

Current Warriors quickly reacted to their new man in the middle.

The official announcement is expected shortly after 9 a.m. Friday when the moratorium period is lifted.

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Jacob Evans is the newest Warrior

Jacob Evans was the 28th name called by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver during the 2018 NBA Draft, but he might have emerged as the biggest winner.

That’s because the four words Silver said before Jacob Evans were “Golden State Warriors select.” Evans will be competing for a team that is attempting a rare three-peat in the upcoming season.

The 21-year old Evans joins Golden State after playing three seasons at Cincinnati. In 105 career games (80 starts), Evans averaged 11.7 points on 42.9 percent shooting, 4.3 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.1 steals. He shot 37.7 percent from 3-point range with 174 career 3-pointers.

Evans earned First-team All-American Athletic Conference honors this past season after averaging 13.0 points on 42.7 percent shooting, 4.7 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.0 blocks.

Evans is 6-foot-6 with a 6-foot-9 wingspan and can play both guard and forward. Evans thrived in both positions as he was a top-10 finalist for the Julius Erving Small Forward of the Year Award as a junior and Jerry West Shooting Guard of the Year Award as a sophomore.

The Bearcats went to the NCAA Tournament in all three of Evans’ seasons.

Evans was both in Jacksonville, N.C. and grew up in Baton Rouge, La. He attended high school at St. Michael the Archangel, where he led the Warriors to their first ever Class 4A state semifinals as a senior.

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Warriors sweep Cavs, win 3rd title in 4 years

The Golden State Warriors are known for their three-point shooting. The Warriors are known for their third-quarter dominance. They will now be known for another three, as winners of three of the past four NBA championships. 

Stephen Curry scored 37 points, Kevin Durant notched his first career playoff triple-double and Golden State completed a four-game sweep of the Cleveland Cavaliers with a 108-85 victory on Friday at the Quicken Loans Arena. The Warriors join six other franchises to repeat as champions. 

“I’m just extremely grateful for the team I get to play for and just all that’s gone into being back as champs again,” Curry said. 

“Grateful and excited that I get this opportunity, and it feels so good to be a part of a group like this,” Durant said. “To win two championships is — that’s what you want as an NBA player.” 

Durant was voted Finals MVP for the second straight year. He averaged 28.8 points on 52.6 percent shooting, 10.8 rebounds, 7.5 assists and 2.3 blocks. Durant had 20 points, 12 rebounds, 10 assists and three blocks in Game 4. 

“Just the product of hard work, and care and love for the game,” Durant said. “I just feel indebted to the game. I feel like it saved my life. It changed my life. It took me out of an environment that I didn’t think I would ever be out of. I thought I was going to live in Maryland my whole life. But to travel the world and meet different people and go to different arenas and different cities and countries around the world, I’m just forever grateful for this opportunity.” 

Curry rebounded from a subpar Game 3 with a stunning performance. He shot 12-for-27 from the field, including 7-for-15 from 3-point range, and added six rebounds, four assists, three steals and three blocks. Curry averaged 27.5 points, 6.0 rebounds, 6.8 assists and 1.5 steals in the NBA Finals. 

While the Warriors and the city of Oakland are preparing for another parade on Tuesday morning, the city of Cleveland is facing the possibility of losing LeBron James for the second time. James has a player option for next season and might opt out to seek greener pastures. 

“I have no idea at this point,” James said. “The one thing that I’ve always done is considered, obviously, my family. Understanding especially where my boys are at this point in their age. They were a lot younger the last time I made a decision like this four years ago. I’ve got a teenage boy, a pre-teen and a little girl that wasn’t around as well. So sitting down and considering everything, my family is a huge part of whatever I’ll decide to do in my career, and it will continue to be that.” 

It turned out James played the last three games with a broken right hand. He broke it in the aftermath of Game 1’s heartwrenching loss. 

“Self-inflicted, postgame after Game 1,” James said. “Very emotional. For a lot of different reasons, understanding how important a Game 1 is on the road for our ballclub, what would that have done for us, the way we played, the calls that were made throughout the course of that game. I had emotions on the game was taken away from us. I had emotions of you just don’t get an opportunity like this on the road versus Golden State to be able to get a Game 1, and I let the emotions get the best of me.” 

James had 23 points, seven rebounds, eight assists and a block before his 15th NBA season ended with 4:03 left in the game. He congratulated the Warriors on the court before taking a seat on the bench. 

“It’s definitely been a whirlwind,” James said. “There’s been ups and downs. It’s been good, it’s been bad. For me, I just try to be consistent throughout the course of the season. Be the leader I know I can be for this ballclub, for this franchise every night, no matter what was going on from the outside or the inside, and be reliable every single day. Showing up to work every single day. Putting in the work and grinding every single day. I have no idea how the story will be talked about of my season, but, I know I punched the clock in every single day. That’s for me to understand that, and I’m okay with that.” 

“When we came here three years ago in the first meeting, we weren’t fearful of his shot,” Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said. “We were fearful of his power and his penetration and his passing, but now you fear everything. I think maybe the greatest testament to LeBron is that five years ago he was one of the Top 5 players of all time. From five years ago until now, it seems like he’s 10 times better because he’s added so much skill to his game.” 

James might be at his peak as a player, but he did not have a championship-caliber surrounding cast. Only Kevin Love averaged double-digits in scoring. George Hill and J.R. Smith shot 32.3 percent and 31.7 percent, respectively. Sharpshooter Kyle Korver missed 15 of 16 shots. 

Unlike last year when they scored 49 points in the first quarter en route to a 137-116 series-extending victory, the Cavaliers didn’t give themselves much of a chance this time around. They missed eight of their first nine shots to trail by 10 after just three minutes into the game. 

The Cavaliers battled back to take a one-point lead early in the second quarter, but Golden State closed the half on a 19-9 run to take a 61-52 lead. The Warriors didn’t give Cleveland much of a chance either by blocking eight shots in the first half. Curry scored 20 points and Durant added 12. 

“I think tonight everybody just played their roles well,” Durant said. “Steph was aggressive for us early, set the nice tone for us and everybody else kind of filled in. Our defense was great.” 

Then the vaunted third quarter started. The Warriors scored the first six points to push the lead to 15 and the 2018 NBA season was all but over. 

“It was a tough season,” Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said. “We went through a lot, but I think it made us tougher, made us stronger. The new guys who had a chance to play in the playoffs for the first time, the new guys who had a chance to experience The Finals, which you dream of doing when you’re a kid. They had that experience. I told those guys now they see what we have to do to get better and take that next step.” 

“What Ty did with his group and obviously what LeBron does night after night is just incredible,” Kerr said. “They had an amazing run. Bottom line is we’ve got a lot of talent, and we had more talent than they did, and talent wins in this league.” 

Now that they are owners of the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy for the third time in four years, are the Golden State Warriors a dynasty? 

“Not for me to answer that question,” Curry said. “I just know what we’ve been able to accomplish is really meaningful and something that not many players have been able to experience. So wherever that puts us in the conversation in the history of the NBA or, you know, titles around dynasty and all that type of stuff, I’m a three-time champ. We’ve got a lot of three-time, two-time champs in there, and we’ll have plenty of time in our lives to discuss that later. So want to keep this thing going as long as we can.” 

A scary though for the rest of the NBA. 

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Warriors on brink of another championship

A parade might be coming to the city of Oakland yet again. 

Kevin Durant scored a career playoff-high 43 points, and the Golden State Warriors moved within one win from repeating as NBA champions with a 110-102 victory in Game 3 over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday at the Quicken Loans Arena. 

Durant shot 15-for-23 from the field, 6-for-9 from 3-point range and 7-for-7 from the free-throw line. He added 13 rebounds and seven assists. 

“That was amazing what he did out there tonight,” Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said. “Some of those shots, I don’t think anybody in the world can hit those but him. He was incredible.” 

“It just happened within the flow,” Durant said. “I wasn’t expecting to come out or shoot a lot of shots or look to score. I was just trying to play great defense and run the plays that coach draws up and just run with the flow of what our offense is like throughout the game. 

While the Warriors are poised to hoist the Larry O’Brien Trophy for the third time in four years, LeBron James and the Cavaliers will again have the front seat to watch the celebrations. James had 33 points, 10 rebounds, 11 assists for his 10th career Finals triple-double. 

“It’s definitely a tough loss, and we had our chances,” James said. “But we have another opportunity on Friday to win on our home floor. We’ve been pretty good throughout the postseason. So that’s a good thing for us that we have an opportunity to extend the series, but we’ve got to come out and play 48 minutes.” 

For the second straight Finals, the iconic shot in Game 3 belonged to Durant. On June 7, 2017, Durant hit a 26-foot 3-pointer from the left wing with 45.3 seconds left to put Golden State up one. On June 6, 2018, Durant hit a 33-foot 3-pointer from the top of the arc with 49.8 seconds on the clock to put the Warriors up six. While Stephen Curry and Draymond Green jumped and shouted at him, Durant was stone-faced. 

“I just internalize it a little bit as I get older a little bit more than I did as a younger player,” Durant said. “So I was definitely excited. It’s hard to make shots at this level in the NBA, and I understand that. But at the same time, I knew the game wasn’t over. I’ve seen some crazy stuff happened in my years of playing basketball, not just in the NBA but just overall. We were up 6 with 25 seconds to go, I think. So anything could happen.” 

While everyone was trying to compare the two shots, James knew the shots and the circumstances were different. 

“The one he made tonight was about four or five feet behind the one he made last year,” James said. “Last year we were up two, and he pulled up pretty much right at the 3-point line and got a great contest, but he made it. Tonight, they’re up three. They came off a pick-and-roll and he just stopped behind and pulled four or five feet behind the three-point line. So same wing, different location. 

“But you definitely tip your hat. That’s what he does. He’s a scorer. You know, he’s assassin, and that was one of those assassin plays right there.” 

The Warriors will look to do something Friday they couldn’t do last year in Game 4 at The Q, and that is to sweep the Cavaliers to lock up the championship. 

“Looking forward to that opportunity to close out and win a championship,” Curry said. “It’s going to be tough. We thought tonight was hard. It’s going to be even harder in Game 4, so we’ve got to be ready.” 

Here are a few observations from the Warriors’ pivotal Game 3 victory over the Cavaliers. 

Curry went an unheard-of 36 minutes without a field goal — missing 10 straight shots, including seven from 3-point range — but delivered in winning time. With just under three minutes left, Curry put the Warriors up one after hitting an off-balance layup off a pass from Draymond Green. After a steal by Andre Iguodala and miscommunication on defense by the Cavaliers, Curry found himself wide open at the 3-point line. The Warriors went up by four. 

“It was a crazy night all the way around, and didn’t have anything going offensively,” Curry said. “Tried to still play with energy and tried to do the little things here and there to help the team…My teammates were talking to me the whole game, which was helpful.” 

Curry finished with 11 points on 3-for-16 shooting, six assists, five rebounds and a steal. After setting an NBA Finals record in Game 2 with nine 3-pointers, Curry misfired on nine of 10 shots from beyond the arc. 

“Steph was 3 for 16, 1 for 10, but as usual he hit a big one,” Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said. “He always finds a way to make big plays even on his toughest nights.” 

“We know that he was struggling from the field,” Green said. “However, we’re not going away from him. We’re going to continue to give him the ball, and he can continue to shoot however many shots he wants.”

The Warriors might not have been victorious if not for the return of Iguodala, who missed the last six games with a left lateral leg contusion. The 2015 Finals MVP came up with the clutch steal that led to Curry’s 3-pointer. After James cut the lead to one with a 3-pointer, Iguodala showed his hops have returned by soaring for a slam off a pick-and-roll with Durant. Iguodala finished with eight points, two rebounds, two assists, steal and a plus-14 in 21:54. 

“One thing with Andre is that he’s not like most players in terms of needing rhythm and needing minutes to get his conditioning back,” Kerr said. “He just never gets tired, even when he’s been out two and a half weeks and hasn’t really been running much at all. He’s still able to play through all of that.” 

Iguodala went to the locker room just before halftime after banging his other leg, according to Kerr. 

 

Before they were known for submitting opponents in the third quarter, the Warriors’ M.O. used to be snatching the souls of teams at the end of quarters. We saw a glimpse of it return in the first half. 

From the 3:38 mark to the end of the opening quarter and the final 4:06 in the first half, Golden State outscored Cleveland 31-15. The Warriors shot 10-for-15 from the field, 4-for-5 from 3-point range and 7-for-7 from the free-throw line without committing a turnover. The Cavaliers shot 7-for-16 with two turnovers. 

During the other 16:16, Golden State was outscored 43-21. The Warriors shot 8-for-26 from the field, missing all nine of their 3-point attempts. They were also outrebounded 23-10, including 7-2 on offensive boards. The Jekyll and Hyde Warriors trailed 58-52 at halftime. 

“We felt very fortunate to only be down six,” Kerr said. “I think we were down 12 early in the game and they were getting every rebound and we couldn’t make a shot. Kevin was the story in the first half, just keeping us in the game, and then he was the story in the second half as well, closing it out.” 

The Warriors made their customary run to open the second half, outscoring the Cavaliers 17-6 in the first 4:16 to take a 64-59 lead. It was their first lead of the game. Durant had five points, four rebounds, an assist and a block. Draymond Green orchestrated the charge with four assists. JaVale McGee was at the center of it all with eight points and two offensive rebounds. 

“JaVale’s been in and out of the lineup,” Kerr said. “He started against the Spurs the whole series in the first round, and didn’t play much the next two, but he stayed ready. He got his work in with the rest of the guys during those weeks, kept his conditioning up, and he’s giving us a huge lift now.” 

“My whole goal when I go out there is to bring as much energy as possible,” McGee said. “I felt like I didn’t really bring as much energy as I should have in that first half. That’s when I go in, the first quarter and third quarter. So that’s my time to shine. 

Golden State shot 7-for-10 from the field, while holding Cleveland to 2-for-9 shooting. The Warriors dominated the boards 9-2. 

“We took some bad shots, and sometimes a bad shot is just as good as a turnover because we’re not expecting it,” Lue said. “They get out in transition and get an easy basket. So us missing some shots and taking some bad shots, they were able to capitalize on it.” 

The Cavaliers managed to tie the game moments later and it was nail-biting time for both fan bases. There were five ties in the fourth quarter. Curry’s layup was the final of eight lead changes. 

McGee finished with 10 points, being one of four Warriors to do so. Green, Klay Thompson and rookie Jordan Bell were the others. Shaun Livingston matched Iguodala with eight points. 

“We’re not playing our bench as many minutes in this series as we have in the past, at least in the last few years.” Kerr said. “But we’re getting really good production. Shaun’s had a tremendous series. Bell was really good tonight. We needed his athleticism and his ability to guard multiple positions.”

Kevin Love scored 15 of his 20 points in the first half and pulled down 13 rebounds. Rodney Hood played significant minutes for the first time in the series and responded with 15 points on 7-for-11 shooting and six rebounds. J.R. Smith had 13 points and three steals.

Green picked up his fifth technical of the playoffs midway through the first quarter when he jawed back-and-forth with Tristan Thompson. He was fortunate not to pick up a second tech just 39 seconds later when he showed his disapproval over a foul call.

“I’m a human being, and we have emotions and you react to certain things,” Green said. “Whether I have a reaction or not, I’m not walking up to the official to have a reaction. If I have a reaction, I’m probably going the other way. You know, it is what it is. I don’t play the game of basketball worried about if the official is going to think one thing or another. I just play and go about it that way.”
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Warriors win uneven Game 1 in OT, LeBron scores 51

LeBron James gave one of the best performances of his NBA career in Game 1 of the 2018 NBA Finals Thursday night, yet somehow was overshadowed by one of his teammates. 

James scored a career playoff-high 51 points, but it was all for naught as the Cleveland Cavaliers lost 124-114 in overtime to the Golden State Warriors. The defending NBA champions take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven series. 

“I just try to do whatever it takes to help our team win,” James said. “Try to be a triple threat out on the floor offensively and being able to score, rebound, and get my guys involved. I just tried to do that tonight.” 

James was 19-for-32 from the field, 3-for-7 from the 3-point line, and 10-for-11 from the free-throw line. But the water-cooler talk on Friday will surround the final 4.7 seconds in regulation. 

After George Hill missed the second of two free throws, J.R. Smith pulled down the offensive rebound, dribbled out to the 3-point line, and ran out the clock. Unfortunately for Smith, the game was actually tied. He and the Cavaliers had just blown a golden opportunity for a game-winner that would have stunned the basketball world. 

Instead, the Warriors escaped with the victory. The Cavaliers are left with what-ifs. The main question is, did Smith suffer a mental lapse at the worst time possible and forgot what the score was?  

“I got the rebound,” Smith said. “Tie ball game and we had a timeout. I tried to get enough space because Kevin (Durant) was standing right there. I tried to bring it out and get enough space to maybe get a shot off. I looked over at LeBron and he looked like he was trying to get a timeout. So I stopped, and the game was over.” 

Smith explained he knew the score was tied. 

“If I thought we were ahead,” Smith said. “I would have just held on to the ball and let them foul me.” 

According to Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue, Smith told him something different. 

“He thought we were up 1,” Lue said. 

What did James think of the whole sequence? 

“I thought we were all aware of what was going on,” James said. “That’s my view. So I don’t know what JR was thinking.” 

The Warriors came out in overtime rejuvenated and made their first five shots. The Cavaliers missed their first five and that was all she wrote. 

“I was disappointed that we didn’t get the rebound first,” Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said. ” Then, we got lucky. He could have taken a shot, but he dribbled out. I guess he thought they were ahead.” 

“Sometimes you need a little luck,” Draymond Green said. “You know, it’s good to be lucky sometimes. So I’ll take it. I think when he got the rebound, he probably could have laid it up. But nonetheless, that’s a part of the game, being locked in. You got to know the score. That’s just kind of basketball.” 

Stephen Curry led Golden State with 29 points and nine assists. Kevin Durant had 26 points, nine rebounds, six assists and three blocks. Klay Thompson recovered from an early injury scare and recorded 24 points. Green filled out the box score with 13 points, 11 rebounds, nine assists, five steals and two blocks. 

“It was a crazy game,” Curry said. “I think all Game 1s are just different in their own right because you are having to adjust to a certain style of play with a different team.” 

There was another play that will be discussed for years to come. With 36.4 seconds left in regulation and Cavaliers up two, Durant was called for a charge drawn by James on a drive to the basket. 

The referees weren’t sure if James’ feet were inside or outside the restricted area. An instant replay review was triggered and the call was reversed to a block on James. The referees decided that James was not in a legal guarding position. Durant hit two free throws to tie the game. 

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

Lue had a lot to say on the change of heart by the refs. 

“For our team to come out and play their hearts out and compete the way we did,” Lue said. “It’s bad. It’s never been done before where you know he’s outside the restricted. Then you go there and overturn the call and say it’s a block. It’s never been done, ever, in the history of the game. And then tonight in The Finals on the biggest stage when our team played well, played our butt off. It ain’t right.” 

Well, a reversal occurred just last year and it went against Durant. 

“Same play happened to me last year in the regular season,” Durant said. “It was a block. They called it a block. They went, reviewed it, and changed it to a charge. So I knew once it was 30 seconds to go that they could review that situation.” 

Thompson suffered a left leg lateral contusion as he was trying to catch a pass from Curry early in the first quarter. Smith slipped and took Thompson’s leg from right under him. 

Thompson went to the locker room, but returned at the start of the second quarter. 

“I’m sore, but who isn’t sore at this point in the year?” Thompson said. “I’ll be fine in a couple of days. I just need to get some rest and some rehabilitation and I’ll be good.” 

“It looked pretty bad,” Kerr said. “I think he was out the rest of the quarter. So I didn’t know if he was going to be able to come back or not, but he was available and he turned into Klay right away when he took a 35-footer on his first possession back out on the floor. So we knew he was ok.” 

There was another Thompson on the floor and he got into a bit of trouble late in overtime.  

As the final seconds were ticking away, the Warriors couldn’t run out the clock. Shaun Livingston had to take a shot or there would be a shotclock violation. So he did. Tristan Thompson took exception and leaped with his arm at Livingston’s head to defend the shot. Referee Tony Brothers called a foul and ejected Thompson immediately. 

“I contested a shot that shouldn’t have been taken,” Thompson said. “It’s 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. I made the contest and next thing I know I was being kicked out for making a contest that we learn in training camp. I don’t know why I got thrown out.” 

Brothers explained his decision when he spoke postgame to pool report Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press. 

“From the angle that I had on the floor,” Brother said. “As he is coming toward Livingston, his elbow is up high and it appears he hits him in the head when he is coming toward him. So that’s why I called the foul and ejected him.” 

Curry thought it’s the right way to finish a game. 

“if you’re just playing the game of basketball and finishing out a possession instead of 

taking a turnover,” Curry said. “I don’t see any problem with that at all. Guys are out there to finish a game and play the right way. So I think that’s part of playing the right way.” 

Green showed his approval by waving bye to Thompson. Thompson took exception to that as well and shoved a basketball at Green’s face. After review, Thompson was accessed a flagrant-2 foul. 

The Warriors continue to be without the services of Andre Iguodala. Kevin Love returned from a concussion and recorded 21 points and 13 rebounds.

What a way to begin a series that many thought would not even be competitive. Game 2 is Sunday evening. 

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

“We understand how difficult and how challenging this task is,” James said. “You take it all the way throughout the night thinking about it. Ways you could have been better. Plays that could have happened that could have gone your way and didn’t go your way. Things you could have done. You wake up tomorrow with a fresh mind and you move forward.”

Final stats

Final Game 1 stats

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Warriors advance to 4th straight NBA Finals

Eric Gordon hit a three-pointer with 6:43 left in the second quarter. P.J. Tucker hit one with 6:28 remaining in the fourth. The Houston Rockets missed an NBA playoff-record 27 straight three-pointers in between.

As a result, their season came to an end and the Golden State Warriors advance to play the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals for the fourth year in a row.

While the Rockets were shooting bricks from beyond the arc, the Warriors made 13 three-pointers during the same stretch and outscored Houston 61-34. That was more than enough for the defending NBA champions to overcome a 15-point first-half deficit and win Game 7 in Houston by the score of 101-92.

“I don’t know what it was in the first half,” Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said. “But they had so many offensive boards. We had so many turnovers. They must have had 15 more possessions than we did. Once we got that kind of evened out, I thought we got things rolling.”

Houston pulled down 11 offensive boards for nine second-chance points and converted 10 Golden State turnovers into nine points. The Rockets had a 54-43 lead at halftime, but were doomed by their poor shooting and the Warriors’ dominance once again in the third quarter.

Stephen Curry scored 14 points, Kevin Durant had 10 and Golden State outscored Houston 33-15 in the third quarter to take control of the series. The duo shot a combined 6-for-9 from three-point range.

“That’s what their trademark is,” Rockets’ head coach Mike D’Antoni said. “We know it. It’s not like a secret. Just seems like they came out a little bit more determined than we were right at the beginning. The juice was flowing on their side and then they get it going. It’s up to you to turn them off.”

Curry, who scored just eight points in the first half, had 11 points in a span of 1:47 and added six rebounds, three assists and a steal. The two-time MVP finished with 27 points, nine rebounds, 10 assists, four steals and a block.

“They say two basketballs can fit inside the hoop at one time,” Curry said. “That’s kind of how big they are and for some reason I couldn’t figure it out. Then eventually I kept shooting the same shots and they go in. So it might sound like a broken record, but I never lose confidence in myself. Almost have a sense of amnesia. When you get out there, if you have a shot, take it. Don’t even worry about what’s happened up until that point.”

“The Rockets’ defense was tremendous in the first half,” Kerr said. “Overplaying everything. We couldn’t get to our spots. Everything we got going the other night in Game 6, we couldn’t get to tonight. Houston was just outperforming us, outcompeting us. But our talent took over. It’s as simple as that. We’ve got three of the best shot makers in the league.”

Durant led Golden State with 34 points and scored a Western Conference Finals-record 213 points.

“I just tried to come out tonight and play as hard as I can on the defensive side of the ball and let my offense come around,” Durant said. “Whereas the games before I was thinking about my offense coming into the game. I just tried to figure myself out mentally and I’m glad I was able to figure it out with a W instead of going home with a loss.”

James Harden scored 32 points for the Rockets on 12-for-29 shooting from the field. Eric Gordon had 23 on 9-for-22 shooting. The duo shot a combined 4-for-25 from three-point range. Harden missed his last 11 shots from beyond the arc, while Gordon missed his last seven. But they were infinite better than Trevor Ariza, who missed all 12 shots he took, including nine from downtown, to go scoreless in 41:50.

“We are just going to keep shooting them,” Harden said. “We’ve done it all year long. In the first half, our energy defensively was different. That created more opportunities for the three and they went in. As a result of that, we got a double-digit lead going into halftime. Those same opportunities were there in the second half. We just didn’t make them.”

Despite the horrendous results, D’Antoni will continue to reply on three-point shots.

“We’ve got the right formula,” D’Antoni said. “We’ve got to execute it. We’ve got to do a little bit better. It would be nice if they would help out a little bit, but it seems like they’re not. We’ll get better.”

The Rockets also couldn’t overcome the loss of Chris Paul, whose hamstring kept him on the bench.

“We knew it was going to be tough on him,” D’Antoni said. “Mostly I hate it for him. He’s probably more devastated than anybody. But, again, I know the fans of Houston, especially myself, to have him on your side is incredible. He’ll be back. Like I said, he’ll be even better. We’ll be better.”

“We don’t even think about that,” Harden said of his backcourt partner. “We had an opportunity tonight and last game without Chris. Obviously, he’s a big part of why we’re here. But we had opportunities, especially in the first half of both games.”

While the Rockets are grounded, the Warriors return to Oracle Arena to open the NBA Finals on Thursday night.

“It’s exciting to get another opportunity and compete for a championship,” Durant said. “We’ve got one series to go. Hopefully we figure it out and get it done.”

New NBA playoffs record

The Rockets made dubious history by missing 27 straight three-pointers. Here is a map of the bricks in all its glory per NBA Stats.

Final stats

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Warriors rally from 17 down to force Game 7

There is nothing more dramatic in all of sports than a Game 7. There will be one played on Monday night between the defending NBA champions Golden State Warriors and the Houston Rockets for the right to advance to the 2018 NBA Finals.

Klay Thompson scored 35 points, Stephen Curry had 29 and Kevin Durant added 23 to help the Warriors avoid elimination with a 115-86 victory over the Rockets Saturday night at Oracle Arena.

“It’s going to be fun,” Curry said. “It’s what you play for, to be in a situation where you are one win away from going to The Finals. Pressure both ways because of how big the moment is and you’ve got to want it.”

Thompson sure played like he wanted one more game. He shot 9-for-14 from three-point range and added four steals. Both were season highs. The performance was reminiscent of when Thompson made 11 three-pointers en route to 41 points to help Golden State avoid elimination against the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 6 of the 2016 West Finals.

“I don’t know if I was born for it,” Thompson said. “But I definitely worked my butt off to get to this point. I guess you could say I was born for it.”

“I think Klay doesn’t worry too much about repercussions,” Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said. “He doesn’t worry about judgment and results. I think he just loves to play. He’s so comfortable in his own skin. I just think he wants to go out there and hoop and he doesn’t worry about much else. So the pressure doesn’t seem to bother him much. He just competes and plays.”

“He’s kind of numb to the environment,” Curry said of his fellow splash brother. “He’s excited to play basketball whether it’s Game 2 of the regular season or Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals. He’s confident in himself and what he can do out on the floor on both ends. He’s never seen a shot he doesn’t like. So when you have that kind of recipe mixed in, good things do happen usually at the right time.”

Despite playing without Chris Paul, Houston got off to a positive start. The Rockets made eight three-pointers and led 39-22 after one quarter. But there was more than enough time for the Warriors to make a comeback and comeback they did. The Warriors outscored Houston 93-47 from the second quarter on, including 45-12 in the final 16:43.

“I have no clue why our team is like this,” Kerr said. “This is kind of what we do. We are up and down a little bit.”

After making just one of seven three-point shots from three-point range in the first quarter, the Warriors shot 15-for-31 the rest of the way. Thompson was 7-for-8 and Curry was 4-for-7 from beyond the arc in the second half.

“The one thing I do know is that our guys have a ton of character, competitiveness and desire,” Kerr said. “They are champions. So our guys compete. That’s the main thing. They may not always focus, but they compete.”

While the Warriors were en fuego, Houston cooled off significantly. The Rockets shot 29.4 percent from the field, including 23.5 percent from beyond the arc, in the second half. After 19 fastbreak points in the opening quarter, Houston scored just five more. The Rockets also committed 21 turnovers in the game, nine more than Golden State.

“We can’t turn it over,” Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni said. “We need to do a better job. But we knew this was hard. They are champs. They are going to come back fighting and they did. They did their part.”

James Harden scored 32 points with nine turnovers for the Rockets. Eric Gordon started for Paul and had 19 points with five turnovers.

Now a trip to the NBA Finals comes down to one game at the Toyota Center.

“There’s no pressure,” Harden said. “It’s an opportunity that we all are excited to be a part of. Game 7 at our house. That’s what we’ve worked the entire regular season for to get home-court advantage. So we’re going to come out and be ready.”

“It’s a great opportunity for both teams to come out there and play a great brand of basketball,” Durant said. “I know for us we are going to come out there and be ready to play from the start of the game. We put ourselves in that position now to have one more game and trying to get to The Finals and get back to where we want to get to.

“I think guys are ready for it. We are looking forward to going down there, locking in and being who we are.”

D’Antoni has no clue if Paul will be on the floor come Monday night.

“I’m not thinking about it because I don’t know,” D’Antoni said. “I have no idea. I was pre-med, just to let you know. I’m pretty good, but I have no idea.”

The blowout allowed Kerr to insert Patrick McCaw into the game. McCaw returned after missing 21 games with a lumbar spine contusion and received a rousing standing ovation.

Final stats

Final Game 6 stats

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