Toronto — This time, LeBron James didn’t have to do it all by himself.
James had 26 points, 13 assists and 11 rebounds for his 21st career playoff triple-double, J.R. Smith scored 20 points and the Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Toronto Raptors 113-112 in overtime on Tuesday night to win Game 1 of their second-round playoff series.
Kyle Korver scored 19 points, including the go-ahead 3-pointer in overtime after Cleveland never led in regulation. Tristan Thompson had 14 points and 12 rebounds for the Cavaliers, who have eliminated Toronto in each of the past two postseasons.
“My teammates were unbelievable tonight,” James said. “They stepped up when I wasn’t at my best.”
Jeff Green scored 16 points and Kevin Love had 13 rebounds.
James, who topped 40 points three times in seven games against Indiana in round one, shot 12 for 30 against Toronto, going 1 for 8 from 3-point range, and called it “probably one of my worst games of the season.”
Still, James came through when it counted, tying the score with two baskets in the final 92 seconds of regulation to complete Cleveland’s comeback from a double-digit deficit.
“It got to a one-possession, two-possession game,” James said. “That’s what I like the most.”
Toronto’s Fred VanVleet missed a 3-pointer with 3.4 seconds to go in overtime that could have won it for the Raptors, who couldn’t hold on after taking a 10-point lead early in the fourth quarter.
“He got a heck of a shot,” Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan said. “I’ll live with him shooting that shot 10 times out of 10. We got a good look and it just didn’t fall.”
Jonas Valanciunas had 21 points and 21 rebounds, Kyle Lowry had 18 points and 10 assists, and DeRozan scored 22 points for the Raptors, who host Game 2 on Thursday night.
The Cavaliers beat the Raptors in six games in the Eastern Conference finals in 2016 before going on to win their first NBA championship. Last year, Cleveland swept Toronto in the second round.
Korver’s 3 early in overtime gave the Cavaliers their first lead of the game, 108-105.
Lowry’s three-point play made it 113-112 with 57 seconds to go and, after the Cavs were called for a shot-clock violation, Toronto had one more chance to win, but VanVleet couldn’t come through.
“We feel good about the win but I think we were also very fortunate,” Korver said.
VanVleet was one of four Raptors to miss in the final seconds of regulation. Toronto got four looks at the potential winning basket but missed all four, including a wide-open 3 by VanVleet, giving Cleveland the ball with 0.6 seconds remaining. Green inbounded to James, but his shot bounced off the rim.
The Raptors shot 5 for 24 in the fourth quarter, with Valanciunas missing six of seven attempts. Toronto missed its final 11 shot attempts in regulation.
“I don’t know if it was nerves or yips or what,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey said. “Just things that shot ourselves in the foot when we had a 10-point lead.”
DeRozan scored 11 points in the first, connecting on five of eight attempts, and Lowry had eight points and five assists as Toronto led 33-19. James was 3 of 5 in the first but the rest of the Cavs shot 4 for 18.
James, who averaged more than 41 minutes in Cleveland’s first-round series against Indiana, checked out with 3:31 left in the first. With James on the bench, the Cavs scored two points the rest of the quarter.
Green and Smith each scored 11 points in the second and the Cavs found their shooting stroke, connecting on 14 of 22 attempts. James had five assists in the period as Cleveland cut the deficit to 60-57 at halftime.
VanVleet took exception to a shove from James at the end of one play and made an attempt to get at the Cavs star, but was restrained by teammates.
Valanciunas had 13 points and eight rebounds in the third, but Korver scored 10 points and James had eight to keep the Cavs close. Toronto led 87-82 heading to the fourth.
“He was kicking our butt in the third quarter,” James said of Valanciunas. “Luckily, I just felt like he wore down a little bit in the fourth.”
(At) Golden State 121, New Orleans 116: Stephen Curry came off the bench to score 28 points in a triumphant return from a knee injury and nearly six weeks off, and the Warriors held off Anthony Davis and the pesky Pelicans to go ahead 2-0 in the Western Conference semifinals.
Kevin Durant scored 29 points with a huge 3-pointer with 3:10 to play, to go with seven assists and six rebounds in Golden State’s franchise-record 14th consecutive postseason victory at Oracle Arena. Draymond Green (Michigan State) contributed 20 points, 12 assists and nine rebounds while battling Davis on both ends all night.
Davis finished with 25 points and 15 rebounds, and Jrue Holiday had 24 points, eight rebounds and eight assists for the Pelicans, who also got 22 points and 12 assists from Rajon Rondo.
Andre Iguodala converted a snazzy three-point play with 6:41 left when he flipped the ball up and it came back down and through the net as he was fouled by Rondo, then Golden State pulled away.
The best-of-seven series resumes with Game 3 on Friday at New Orleans.
Curry shot 8 for 15 with five 3-pointers and grabbed seven rebounds in 27 minutes. He let it fly for a 30-foot 3 in the closing minute of the third.
The two-time MVP stood along the bench early while anxiously waiting for his turn, shaking his legs and clapping his hands.
Then – mouthpiece dangling, of course – Curry finally checked in at the 4:20 mark of the first to a roaring ovation from the Oracle Arena crowd and immediately got to work. He knocked down a 3-pointer from the left wing.
The Warriors were focused on keeping their edge after a blowout Game 1 win.
Just the energy Curry brings helped that cause.
He swished his pregame tunnel shot on the second try just more than an hour before tipoff. Then the whole place came alive when No. 30 made his first appearance on the floor.
Curry had been sidelined since spraining his left knee March 23, the same day he came back from a six-game absence with a right ankle injury.
Klay Thompson never found his groove and went 4 for 20, 2 of 11 on 3s, and scored 10 points. Iguodala scored 15.
Green drove coast to coast for a three-point play 2:08 before halftime, then Thompson banked in a 3 at the halftime buzzer for a 58-55 Warriors edge at intermission.
Even a balanced Pelicans attack – they took 105 shots – with all five starters scoring in double figures wasn’t enough to stop the explosive defending champions.