OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) – Kevin Durant drove through the lane untouched for dazzling dunks time and again, finishing with 38 points, eight rebounds and eight assists in his first NBA Finals for Golden State and leading the Warriors past LeBron James and the defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers, 113-91 on Thursday night in Game 1.
Stephen Curry scored 28 points with six 3-pointers and 10 assists as this sure-to-be thrilling trilogy began at last, a long-expected, spectacular grand finale envisioned ever since that July day Durant left Oklahoma City to join the loaded Warriors.
James wound up with 28 points, 15 rebounds and eight assists a day after dealing with bigotry far away from basketball. Someone painted a racial slur – the N-word – on the gate of his Los Angeles home, leaving James to address racism rather than his seventh straight Finals appearance or stopping KD. James said he would do his best to be ready for the series opener when his mind was elsewhere, concerned for his wife and children back in Ohio.
Durant punished Cleveland for leaving him free, taking the ball to the hoop for emphatic dunks as a man on a mission to deliver exactly what he came for: a championship. He had six slams in the first half alone for the Warriors, who at 13-0 are already the first team to go this far in a postseason unblemished. Game 2 in the series is Sunday night back at Oracle Arena with its deafening sellout crowd.
Kyrie Irving, who hit the deciding 3-pointer with Curry’s hand in his face last June as Cleveland rallied from a 3-1 series deficit to win the city’s first major team title in 52 years, scored 24 points on 10-of-22 shooting. Kevin Love grabbed 21 rebounds and scored 15 points, while Tristan Thompson was held scoreless and to four boards.