Game 1 of the NBA Finals ended in mind-boggling fashion, with the Golden State Warriors winning in overtime over the Cleveland Cavaliers after a final sequence of regulation that will be talked about for years to come.
Cleveland was down 107-106 with 4.7 seconds remaining in regulation when Cavs guard George Hill stepped to the free-throw line to attempt two shots. He returned for the start of the second quarter to huge roars from the yellow-clad sellout crowd and scored 24 points. Rather than immediately putting up a shot or passing to a teammate, Smith ran the ball beyond the three-point line, as though he was trying to avoid being fouled.
He denied not knowing the score.
"I don't know why I got thrown out", Cleveland's Thompson said after the loss.
"I thought it was unnecessary when he shoved the ball in Draymond's face", Thompson said. I'm pretty sure everybody didn't think I was going to shoot it over KD right there. He already had, what, four blocks?
Still, if one's able to remove the way the game curdled in the closing moments, the Cavaliers proved to themselves, the basketball world - and maybe the Warriors themselves - that, despite being prohibitive favorites, the World Champs are very beatable. The Rockets rebounded and converted a pair of foul shots to win.
Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said.
"It's a tough call", Lue said. "He thought we were up one", Lue said. I would never give up on J.R.
In Thursday's loss, it wasn't just LeBron's 51 points that kept the Cavs within punching distance. We had a chance to win.
For the record, Smith claimed that he knew the score was tied but thought the team would call a timeout. "So I stopped. And then the game was over".
The much-maligned Cavaliers' defense has shown up in the postseason, where Cleveland is allowing just 99.9 points per game, second among the 16 teams. Television cameras caught James screaming at Smith in obvious dismay. "I mean, it's like the unspoken rule in the NBA: If you're up 10 or 11 with about 20 seconds left, you don't take that shot".
"I don't know what J.R. Smith was thinking", a frustrated James said.
Thompson has had several big games so far this playoffs, and while he finished Thursday night's game with just two points and five rebounds, he definitely offered a level of physicality and attitude that helped the Cavs very almost win Game 1 and steal home-court advantage in the series. "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 knew he was late on the drive and I knew I had my man beat and he came over a little late".