MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Kyrie Irving hit a turnaround jumper with 3.4 seconds to play to give the Cleveland Cavaliers the win over the Golden State Warriors, 109-108, on Christmas Sunday (Monday Manila time) at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio.
It was the latest chapter between the two teams to factor in the last two NBA Finals.
“It’s nothing like the playoffs but the intensity was up there. This is what you want to be a part of as a professional,” said Irving.
The Warriors had led by as many as 14 points in the fourth quarter before a late surge by the Cavs, who overcame a 3-1 deficit last season to beat the Warriors in the Finals, led to a LeBron James dunk and a foul to take the lead at 105-103 with 1:43 left to play.
A Klay Thompson three-pointer would have extended the Warriors’ lead to 4 with 13.5 remaining but it was waived off due to a shot clock violation.
James finished with 31 points and 13 rebounds while Irving scored 25 and dished 10 assists with 7 steals and 6 rebounds in the win, which was the first since the two teams met in Game 7 of last season’s finals.
Kevin Durant, who was playing for the first time as a Warrior against the Cavs, had a game-high 36 points and 15 rebounds but was unable to get a shot off at the buzzer after being tangled up with Richard Jefferson and hitting the floor.
“I was trying to make a move. I didn’t fall on my own,” Durant said.
Stephen Curry struggled from the field, shooting just 4-of-11 for 15 points with 3 rebounds, 3 steals and 3 assists while Thompson contributed 24 points on 5-of-11 from downtown.
Thompson took the loss hard afterwards.
“We’re mad, man,” Thompson said. “The way we lost that game, we gave them a gift.”
Accurate Spurs tame Bulls
In San Antonio, LaMarcus Aldridge hit his first 11 shots from the floor en route to a season-high 33 points in the Spurs’ 119-100 victory over the Chicago Bulls.
The Spurs built a 20-point first-quarter lead but had slipped behind midway through the third quarter before again roaring past the Bulls in the final 16 minutes.
Russell Westbrook scored 31 points and handed out 15 assists to lead the Thunder to a 112-100 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves in Oklahoma City.
Westbrook also pulled down 7 rebounds for the Thunder, who had 22 points from center Steven Adams of New Zealand and 20 from Turkey’s Enes Kanter.
In the Timberwolves’ first appearance in a Christmas Day game, the young Minnesota team shot 55 percent in taking a 27-23 first-quarter lead.
But they couldn’t keep up the pace and the Thunder, led by a gleefully relentless Westbrook, pulled away for a third straight victory.
“I just go out and have fun,” Westbrook said. “I don’t know if it’s the most fun I’ve ever had but it’s definitely at the top because of the group of guys we have. Everybody is so unselfish. Everybody is willing to do great things.”
The Lakers capped the day with a 111-102 victory over the injury-depleted Clippers in an All-Los Angeles duel.
The Lakers beat the Clippers for the first time since October of 2013, snapping an 11-game skid against their cross-town rivals.
The Warriors will get a chance at revenge on January 16 when they host the Cavs. – with reports from Agence France-Presse/Rappler.com