LeBron James lifts Cavs past Bucks in OT, 114-108

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MILWAUKEE (AP) LeBron James had a big night beyond the arc and capped it with three pivotal points.

James buried a go-ahead 3-pointer with 24 seconds left in overtime and the Cleveland Cavaliers held on for a 114-108 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday night to avenge a late November loss.

“It’s something I practice before the game, it’s something I do on practice days and I was shooting the ball extremely well tonight from the perimeter,” said James, who matched his season high with five 3-pointers. “So, I just trust it. I trust in what I’ve been doing and the work I’ve been putting into it and knock it down.”

Milwaukee took a 108-107 lead on a tip-in by Giannis Antetokounmpo with 1:12 left. Cleveland’s Kyrie Irving missed a 3-pointer from the left corner on the next possession, but Jabari Parker‘s lay-in attempt at the other end curled out.

James was fouled on the rebound by Antetokounmpo, his sixth. James then hit the deep 3-pointer to put Cleveland up 110-108.

“That 3 hurt us,” Parker said. “He’s the best player in the world. He doesn’t care how far it is. You’ve got to respect him.”

Parker was fouled on a layup attempt on the ensuing possession but missed both free throws. Irving hit a pair of free throws with 15.7 seconds left to make it 112-108.

James had 34 points and Irving 28 for Cleveland, which had lost at Milwaukee 118-101 on Nov. 29. Parker had 30 points and Antetokounmpo added 25. The two teams meet again Wednesday night in Cleveland.

“Jabari took advantage of some of our smaller guys when we had them on him, getting to the basket, kind of being physical,” Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said. “So we’ve got to do a better job with that matchup.”

The Bucks scored the final seven points of regulation to send it into overtime tied at 100.

Parker scored on a drive to put Milwaukee up 104-102, but Richard Jefferson was fouled on a 3-point attempt and hit all three free throws to put Cleveland back ahead 105-104. Antetokounmpo answered with a short jumper from the lane to put the Bucks in front 106-105.

Jefferson scored on a baseline drive, but Antetokounmpo made a tip-in to give the Bucks the 108-107 lead with 1:12 left.

The Cavaliers took a 100-93 lead on Irving’s 3-pointer with 2:32 left in regulation, but Greg Monroe‘s inside basket and Tony Snell‘s 3-pointer cut it to 100-98 with 47 seconds remaining.

After a missed 3-pointer by James, Parker scored on an inside spin move from the left side to tie it at 100 with 15.5 seconds left. Irving missed a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 1 second left.

“We get them again tomorrow in Cleveland,” Bucks coach Jason Kidd said. “We can watch video, clean up some mistakes and give them another run tomorrow. Understanding that small plays mean everything. Coming up with loose balls, being able to finish plays on the defensive end and, hopefully, a couple more shots go down for us tomorrow.”

TIP-INS

Cavaliers: Cleveland was without F Kevin Love, sidelined with a bruised left knee. Jefferson started in his place. Love (22.3 points per game and team-high 10.7 rebounds per game) is questionable for Wednesday’s game against the Bucks in Cleveland

Bucks: Reserve F Michael Beasley (8.3 points per game), one of the top contributors off the bench, was out for the third straight game with a sprained left foot.

JAMES PASES MALONE

James moved past Moses Malone (27,409 points) into eighth place on the NBA career scoring list with his first basket of the game. James’ 34 points boosted his career total to 27,442. Next up is Shaquille O’Neal with 28,956 points. Earlier this season, James passed Hakeem Olajuwon and Elvin Hayes.

SMITH INJURES THUMB

Cavaliers G J.R. Smith injured his right thumb late in the first half and did not return. He is scheduled to be examined Wednesday in Cleveland.

LONG-RANGE CAVALIERS

Cleveland’s 17 3-pointers matched the most given up by the Bucks this season. The Cavaliers were 17 of 40 beyond the arc, while the Bucks were 7 of 27. It’s the sixth time this season the Cavaliers have made 15 or more 3-pointers in a game, second-highest in the NBA this season. James’ five 3-pointers tied his season high.

 

Steve Kerr “uncertain” if he will coach in NBA Finals

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The Warriors have gone 12-0 through the playoffs, the first team to sweep the first three rounds of the playoffs since the NBA went to a best-of-7 in all three rounds (a couple Lakers teams did it when the first round was best-of-5).

That doesn’t mean they haven’t missed Steve Kerr as coach, but they haven’t needed him. Yet. Mike Brown has done the job quite well.

Will Kerr be back for the NBA Finals? He told Marc Spears of ESPN he doesn’t know.

Kerr had back surgeries two summers ago, and that caused him to miss the start of the 2015-16 season (Luke Walton ran the show). Kerr coached through pain caused by a slow leak of spinal fluid until nausea and pain became too much at the start of this postseason. Kerr has had a new procedure — one that is apparently promising, one that we hope works to end the leak — but he’s understandably cautious about jumping back in.

That said, the next round, against the Cavaliers (barring the most improbable comeback in NBA history), is when the Warriors will need Kerr’s creative mind and solutions to the challenges Cleveland presents.

He’s also got more than a week to decide since the Finals don’t start until June 1.

Manu Ginobili receives standing ovation upon exiting what may be his final game

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Manu Ginobili is a four-time NBA champion, a two-time All-NBA player,  two-time All-Star, and a Sixth Man of the Year.

He’s also the most popular Spur of his generation — walk around San Antonio, even at the peak of the Spurs runs, and you saw more Ginobili jerseys than Duncan or Parker or Robinson or anyone else. Ginobili is beloved.

When he was taken out near the end of Game 4, maybe his final game as a Spur, the fans erupted into a standing ovation (joined by Stephen Curry, who stepped away from the free throw line to let the moment happen).

Ginobili hinted during the season this would be his last, but has said repeatedly during the playoffs he didn’t know what he would do during the season. He looked like he had game left in the tank during the Western Conference Finals (he had 15 points in Game 4 and was one of the Spurs best players in the series). The question is, at age 40 next season, will he want to go through all the work it takes to get physically ready for the next season.

Warriors take control early, hold off Spurs to sweep series, advance to NBA Finals

Associated Press
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This series was decided early in the second half of Game 1, when Kawhi Leonard’s ankle rolled. He never got back on the court in the next three games, the Spurs were +21 when he was on in that first game and -85 the rest of the way. Without his defense on one end and shot creation on the other the Spurs could not match up.

The Spurs didn’t play like it was over Monday night — while the Warriors would hit threes and go on runs, the Spurs would answer back never let them completely pull away. They got buckets from Kyle Anderson (20 points off the bench) and 15 from Manu Ginobili in what may have been his final NBA game (he got the start, and the crowd erupted when he was taken out near the end).

It wasn’t enough. The Golden State Warriors were the better team — maybe even if Leonard had played — and they were in control of this game the entire way, getting 36 points from Stephen Curry and 29 from Kevin Durant.

The Warriors went on to win 125-110 and sweep the Spurs 4-0. Golden State swept through the West undefeated at 12-0, and they will take on the winner of the East (we all know it will be Cleveland). The Finals don’t begin until June 1.

This is the Warriors third straight trip to the Finals.

“Our chemistry is getting better and better,” Durant said after the game. “We’re going to need it even more in the next series, whoever we play, we’re just looking forward to it. I’m glad we got this done.”

There was a lot of respect between the teams after the series, particularly for Ginobili.

“Somebody I grew up watching, amazing competitor, even more fun playing against him,” Durant said after the game. “I got nothing but love and respect for him, plus he wear my shoes every year so that’s a plus. He was phenomenal this series.”

There also was a feeling among fans that we were robbed of a good series by the injury to Leonard (and the cheap play by Zaza Pachulia that caused it). Without Leonard (and Tony Parker) the Spurs struggled to create shots and generate consistent offense against a stout Warriors defense.

It was evident at the start of Game 4. San Antonio opened game 3-of-16 shooting, but the bigger issue is they went 1-of-8 in the paint against a Warriors team that started small (Patrick McCaw instead of JaVale McGee). Meanwhile, the Spurs were 7-of-7 in the paint to start the game. That is why the Warriors raced out to a quick 12 point lead midway through the first quarter.

The game hung around the 10-point era until an 11-0 Warriors run midway through the second quarter. The Spurs kept fighting, they had 13 more shots than the Warriors in the first half — thanks to 9 Golden State turnovers and 8 San Antonio offensive boards — but the Spurs shot 34.5 percent in the first half, and it wasn’t enough because the Warriors shot 60 percent. The Warriors shot 74 percent (14-of-19) in the second quarter. Because of that it was Warriors 65, Spurs 51 at the half, and Curry and Durant each had 18 for Golden State; Kyle Anderson has 10 points to lead the Spurs.

The second half saw the lead bounce between 10 and 20 most of the time, the Spurs would make a little run and the Warriors would answer with some crisp ball movement and a three. Curry was 5-of-13 from three on the night to lead the way.

Draymond Green added 16 points, 8 rebounds and 8 assists for the Warriors.

Now the Warriors get more than a week off to rest and prepare for the Finals.

Kevin Durant blocks Dejounte Murray twice on one shot (VIDEO)

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Kevin Durant was doing it all in the first half — he had 18 points to lead the Warriors (tied with Stephen Curry) and was making plays all over the court.

That includes racing back on this play and blocking Dejounte Murray‘s layup. Twice. On one shot.

The Warriors have led by 20 and been in control through the start of the third quarter. KD was at the heart of that.