With just under 25-seconds remaining LeBron James drove to the rim but was met by Kevin Durant and his length. The whistles were swallowed and as the ball reached out of bounds, after a short review it was determined that James last made contact with the ball. The Warriors cheered on led by Durant who was excited as the Warriors would eventually take command of the Finals rematch. The last time these two teams met KD hugged his mom on the floor of the Oracle as the Warriors raised their second championship in the last three years. A sense of defeat yet again for the Cavaliers who had their own shooting struggles on Christmas Day.
The Cavs finished the game shooting 32-percent from the field and 42-percent from the three-point line. Yet the entire game the Warriors led by no more than nine points, which happened only in the fourth quarter. The Cavaliers remained resilient as Jae Crowder and Kevin Love each hit a three-point basket late in the fourth, assisting on those of course James. The game was tied with just under two minutes as James converted on a floater in the lane. Thanks to a Jordan Bell offensive rebound, the ball found its way to Klay Thompson who put the Warriors ahead for good with a three-point field goal on the next play.
The controversy will follow as James argues that he was fouled on his last drive to the basket. Durant came across James and made contact with his arms and shoulder before making any contact with the ball. Both players differ on the play.
“He fouled me twice,” James said of his drive to the hoop with the Cavs down 95-92 when Durant blocked James’ shot and he lost it out of bounds. “But, whatever. What are you going to do about it?” When asked about the same plays Durant’s response was, “He’s too big,” Durant said. “He’s too big. He’s too big for that. He’s too big. That ain’t no foul.”
As if it came down to the battle of the stars, James finished with 20 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists. James also finished with 7 turnovers while the Cavaliers finished with 14 as a team. An all-around effort from Durant was the key as he finished with 25 points (8-of-19 shooting), 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, and a game-high 5 blocks during Monday’s victory. If any improvement from Durant this season its the challenge of slowing James who is shooting a career best and having one of his own efficient seasons in year 15.
Stephen Curry missed his ninth straight game due to an ankle injury he sustained during the Warriors visit in New Orleans on 12/4. The MVP guard is not expected to be rushed back and especially as the Warriors continued to have dominance from KD.
After Monday’s loss the Cavaliers are now third place in the East with a 27-10 record. They will round out a quick West coast trip in Sacramento on Wednesday night and Saturday in Utah before heading back home to host the Trailblazers in the new year.