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NBA Finals: Warriors blitz Cavaliers for Game 1 win

NBA Finals: Warriors blitz Cavaliers for Game 1 win

BOX SCORE

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Kevin Durant drove through the lane untouched for dazzling dunks. He dished off even when he could have slammed it home, and did it all on defense.

Oh, he hit from long range, too.

What a dominant NBA Finals opener with the Warriors.

Durant finished with 38 points, eight rebounds and eight assists to lead Golden State 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.

"We could be a lot better than we were tonight but in the Finals you get a `W,' we'll take it," Durant said.

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.

"They're the best I've ever seen," Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said. "They're 13-0, they're constantly breaking records every year."

Game 2 in the series is Sunday night back at Oracle Arena with its deafening sellout crowd.

Durant won the first battle with King James.

"Those are two big household names, so we know you guys and the fans are going to want to see that and pick up on it," said acting Warriors coach Mike Brown, facing a Cleveland franchise that fired him not once but twice. "I'm sure LeBron probably thinks he could play better, and you tip your hat off to KD."

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.

Durant's only other Finals ended at the hands of LeBron and Miami in 2012. He shot 14 for 26 in his fifth 30-point performance this postseason, receiving a rousing ovation when he sat down for good with 2:16 remaining.

Once his night was finally done, Durant found mother Wanda at the end of the Warriors bench and held her in a warm embrace.

Curry sported a fresh haircut for the occasion and the two-time reigning MVP initially wore a black sleeve on his shooting arm to protect a tender elbow that still had some swelling, but he quickly removed it and found his stroke. He shot 11 for 22, 6 of 11 on 3s.

This marks the first time in NBA history the same two teams played in three straight Finals and just the fourth time it has happened in the four major sports leagues.

The shooting was far from pretty, and Cleveland's defense was a step behind most of the night, unable to stop the star-studded roster of All-Stars and key role players on the other side. Golden State finally warmed up after nine days off, while the Cavs had a six-day break since beating Boston in the Eastern Conference finals.

Warriors starting center Zaza Pachulia returned after missing the final two games at San Antonio with a bruised right heel and contributed eight points and six rebounds while plugging the paint.

Golden State's four turnovers tied an NBA Finals low.

Tip-ins
Cavaliers: James' 3-pointer in the third quarter moved him past Reggie Miller (320) for second place on the NBA postseason list, which is led by Ray Allen with 385. ... Cleveland committed 12 of its 20 turnovers in the first half -- "20 in the Finals is not going to get it done," Irving said.

Warriors: Coach Steve Kerr had hoped to feel well enough to return to the bench but stayed behind the scenes in the locker room as he continues to deal with complications from back surgery nearly two years ago. "My heart goes out to him," NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said. ... Curry became the fifth player in NBA history with 300 career playoff 3s after coming in with 295. ... Klay Thompson, playing more stellar defense while missing all five of his 3-point tries and scoring just six points, notched his 77th career postseason game to tie Jeff Mullins for most in franchise history.

Bazemore game-winner nets Hawks rare consecutive victories

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Bazemore game-winner nets Hawks rare consecutive victories

ATLANTA -- Kent Bazemore hit a jumper with 2.1 seconds remaining and the Hawks rallied from 19 points down to beat the New Orleans Pelicans 94-93 Wednesday before a sparse crowd on an icy night in Atlanta.

With the score tied at 92, DeMarcus Cousins drew a blocking foul on John Collins with 13.7 seconds remaining, earning a trip to the foul line. Cousins made only one, giving the Hawks a chance to pull out the victory.

Bazemore knocked down the winning shot with Anthony Davis in his face. New Orleans had one last chance, inbounding the ball to Cousins near the hoop. He came up short on a quick shot, pleading with the officials for a foul call while the Hawks celebrated.

Bazemore led the Hawks with 20 points, while rookie John Collins added 18. Jrue Holiday paced the Pelicans with 22 points, while Cousins had 19 points and 14 rebounds. But Davis was held to just eight points on 2-of-8 shooting.

Coming off a victory over San Antonio, the Hawks won back-to-back games for only the second time this season and snapped the Pelicans' three-game winning streak (see full recap).

Warriors fend off Bulls for 14th straight road win
CHICAGO -- Klay Thompson scored 38 points, Stephen Curry added 30 and the Golden State Warriors beat the Chicago Bulls 119-112 on Wednesday night for their franchise record-tying 14th straight road win.

Kevin Durant had 19 points as Golden State moved into a tie for the third-longest road winning streak in a season in NBA history. The Los Angeles Lakers hold the record with 16 straight road wins during the 1971-72 season.

Next up for the NBA-leading Warriors is a trip to Houston for a showdown with the Rockets on Saturday night.

Nikola Mirotic scored 24 points for Chicago, which dropped to 14-8 since its 3-20 start. Robin Lopez scored 12 of his 16 points in the first half, and Kris Dunn also had 16.

The Warriors played without Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala due to injuries, and Jordan Bell sprained his left ankle when he challenged Lopez's dunk on the Bulls' first possession. Bell stayed down for a while and then was helped to his feet. He tried to put pressure on his leg and grimaced before he opted for a wheelchair ride off the court.

The 23-year-old Bell was selected by the Bulls in the second round of the June draft and then dealt to the Warriors for financial considerations. X-rays were negative, but he will have an MRI on Thursday (see full recap).

Hornets ride record-setting 1st half to victory
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Michael Kidd-Gilchrist scored 21 points, Dwight Howard had another double-double and the Charlotte Hornets used a record-setting first half to beat the Washington Wizards 133-109 on Wednesday night in coach Steve Clifford's return.

The Hornets made 12 of their first 13 shots and scored a franchise-record 77 points in the first half to build a 16-point lead. They extended that to 28 in the second half in a game that was never close.

Kemba Walker had 19 points, Howard had 18 points and 15 rebounds and Jeremy Lamb had 16 points for the Hornets, who won for the fifth time in their last seven games.

Clifford returned after missing 21 games because of headaches caused by sleep deprivation. The Hornets were 9-21 in Clifford's absence and had fallen eight games under .500.

Bradley Beal had 26 points for the Wizards, whose five-game road trip got off to a rocky start (see full recap).

How Sixers plan to replace JJ Redick

How Sixers plan to replace JJ Redick

CAMDEN, N.J. — After Sixers’ practice Wednesday, a reporter asked coach Brett Brown, “Are you concerned about the shooting without [JJ Redick] in there?”

Brown responded, “What do you think?”

Clearly, JJ Redick’s left knee injury is a blow for the Sixers (see story). With Redick sidelined, a combination of Jerryd Bayless, Justin Anderson, Timothé Luwawu-Cabarrot and possibly the recently acquired James Young will have to fill a huge shooting void. Brown said Bayless will start in Redick’s place.

Brown noted the Sixers' offense won’t change radically, but that the other guards will need to focus on off-ball movement without Redick in the lineup.

“JJ is amongst the league’s elite movers,” Brown said. “We need to move Jerryd more. [Robert Covington] is a little bit ground-bound at times. You’ve all sort of seen our structure enough to know almost what we’re hoping to do. And it’s movement. We don’t have to change anything, we just have to do what we do.

"Historically, [Bayless’] role has been stuck in a corner and spotting up, or loop him up to the top and put him in a rub. We’re trying to do more than that, and I think he can shine in that environment.”

Outside of his shooting, the threat of Redick’s jumper draws defenders away from the lane. His absence may make getting to the basket harder work for Ben Simmons.

“I think everybody just has to step up and fill that role,” Simmons said. “We need scoring. He helps us get a lot of shots by being a great shooter, so we need to work on getting our own shots.”

Redick has made more three-point shots (98) than Bayless, Anderson, and Luwawu-Cabarrot combined (95) this season in 34 fewer attempts. Bayless has shot better as a starter (40.4 percent from three-point range) than when he comes off the bench (35.3 percent).

According to Brown, Bayless’ most productive recent game, on Dec. 30 at Denver, may be a blueprint the team uses moving forward. Bayless scored 14 points on 6 of 10 shooting (2 of 3 from three-point territory) in a 107-102 Sixers’ win. Brown said he made a concerted effort to call plays for Bayless, and that the veteran guard responded by making big shots.

It also seems likely that, without Redick’s 17.3 points per game in the lineup, the Sixers will have to lean more heavily on Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons for scoring. But while those two are always front and center, Redick’s injury means Bayless will shift into the spotlight.