OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — The Latest on Game 7 of the NBA Finals between the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers (all times local):
Golden State had an eight-point lead early in the third quarter of Game 7.
In a flash, it was gone.
A pair of 3-pointers from J.R. Smith and a nifty drive by Kyrie Irving added up to an 8-0 run for the Cleveland Cavaliers, and this game is knotted at 54-54 early in the third quarter.
Cleveland had one 3-pointer in the entire first half; Smith nailed two in short order early in the third.
Draymond Green is coming up huge in Game 7.
The oft-excitable Golden State forward has 22 points, fueled by 5 for 5 shooting from 3-point range, and the Warriors lead the Cleveland Cavaliers 49-42 at halftime of the final game of these NBA Finals.
Stephen Curry has three fouls (again) and he and fellow “Splash Brother” Klay Thompson are a combined 5 for 17, but the Warriors are again riding their depth.
LeBron James has 12 points, eight rebounds and five assists for the Cavaliers. Cleveland is outscoring Golden State 28-12 in the paint, but the Warriors have a 30-3 edge in scoring from 3-point range.
Cleveland missed its first eight tries from 3-point range. But when the Cavaliers finally got one to fall, they got four points out of the play.
Iman Shumpert connected from the right wing midway through the second quarter while getting fouled by Golden State’s Shaun Livingston.
Shumpert made the free throw to give Cleveland a two-point lead, but Stephen Curry answered on the ensuing possession with a three-point play to put the Warriors back on top.
Midway through the second quarter, neither team has led by more than four points yet.
LeBron James has six points, six rebounds and three assists, and the Cleveland Cavaliers lead the Golden State Warriors 23-22 after the first quarter of Game 7 of the NBA Finals.
Cleveland’s first five baskets came from five different starters, everyone getting involved early. Stephen Curry’s first basket of the night for the Warriors was a 3-pointer, giving him one of those now in all 58 postseason games of his career. Draymond Green leads the Warriors with seven points early.
Kevin Love, who has been maligned for much of this series, grabbed seven rebounds in the quarter for Cleveland. James also had three turnovers in the game’s first seven minutes, but has more than made up for those with some pinpoint assists.
Andre Iguodala was Golden State’s first sub of the game, and seems to be moving much more fluidly than he was when his back was paining him in Game 6.
Cleveland scored the first four points of Game 7, Golden State answered with the next eight, and then the Cavs tied it up — after the first 5:02 of the title game, it’s Warriors 8, Cavaliers 8.
Whatever nerves both teams were dealing with early seemed easily handled. And now, game on.
Festus Ezeli will start at center for Golden State in Game 7 of the NBA Finals.
Steve Kerr’s decision means that Andre Iguodala will come off the bench, and that could help preserve his balky back that bothered him greatly in Game 6.
It’s the usual starters for both sides in the rest of the spots: Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Harrison Barnes for the Warriors, and LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love, Tristan Thompson and J.R. Smith for Cleveland.
Incidentally, the Warriors’ record when Ezeli starts this season is 13-0.
Dwyane Wade is at Game 7 of the NBA Finals, and LeBron James’ close friend and former Miami Heat teammate says he’s as excited as the other fans who will be taking their seats at Oracle Arena.
“The buildup for this game has just been incredible,” Wade told NBA TV about a half-hour before the tip-off. “I know everybody in this building — I know I am — is glad to be here. Hopefully this is a game where we can say ‘We were there.'”
Wade says James has a mechanism that allows him to mentally be ready for moments like this, and urged the Cavaliers to keep following his lead.
“When he’s locked in like that, you know you have a chance,” Wade said.
Wade says the start will be key for both teams — if Golden State’s crowd gets really going, that could be difficult for Cleveland.
This is the sixth time LeBron James will appear in a Game 7.
If the first five are any indication, he’ll have a big night in this one.
The Cleveland star comes into this title-deciding game on Sunday night averaging 34.4 points, 9 rebounds and 3.6 assists in his previous Game 7 appearances — scoring at least 27 points in every one. If he scores 30 in this game, he will tie Elgin Baylor’s NBA record with five consecutive Game 7s with at least that many points.
James played in three Game 7s with the Miami Heat, going 3-0 in those games. So far in his Cavaliers tenures, James is 0-2 in Game 7s.
He has been brilliant in this series, averaging 30.2 points, 11.3 rebounds, 8.5 assists, 2.7 steals and 2.2 blocks. No one has ever finished a Finals with those sort of averages.
Steve Kerr stuck to his game-day routine Sunday morning.
No need to change anything now heading into Game 7of the NBA Finals and the Warriors trying for a third time to clinch their second straight championship.
That meant 60 minutes of hot yoga for the NBA coach of the year along with top assistant Luke Walton to get in the “right mindset.”
“I’m guessing Bill Belichick and his staff don’t do that,” Kerr quipped.
That’s how long it’s been since a Cleveland team won a championship and thousands of fans, many of them wearing No. 23 LeBron James jerseys, descended upon the city’s downtown Sunday evening for possibly the party of a lifetime.
The Cavs can end Cleveland’s title drought dating to 1964 with a win in Game 7 of the NBA Finals, and it seems half of Northeast Ohio will cram into bars, restaurants and Quicken Loans Arena to watch.
Tickets for a watch party at “The Q” sold out in seconds, and the team has opened up the plaza next door to Progressive Field, home of the Indians, to accommodate the overflow crowds.
Since the Browns won the NFL title in 1964, Sunday’s game was the closest any team has been to a championship since 1997, when the Indians lost Game 7 of the World Series to the Florida Marlins in the 11 innings.
Jason Darvish of Strongsville, Ohio, has his van decked out from front to back with Browns decals with “1964 and waiting” painted on all four sides.
“This is our Super Bowl,” the 40-year-old said. “One game. Winner takes all.”
— Tom Withers, Cleveland
For the third time in 19 weeks, a championship will be decided in the Bay Are when Golden State takes on Cleveland in Game 7 of the NBA Finals.
The Bay Area has been the center of the North American sports scene so far in 2016, starting when Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos won the Super Bowl at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara on Feb. 7.
Then the Bay Area became the ninth market to send teams to the NBA Finals and Stanley Cup Final in the same year. The San Jose Sharks lost their bid for a title when Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins won the Cup on June 12 in San Jose.
Now it’s up to Stephen Curry and the Warriors to give the local fans a title to celebrate at home. If Golden State wins, it will mark the first time since the Oakland Athletics won the World Series in 1974 that a Bay Area team won a championship at its home venue.