LeBron’s presence on floor changes everything

Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant (35) defends Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) diromg the first half of Game 4 of basketball’s NBA Finals in Cleveland, Friday, June 9, 2017. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

CLEVELAND (AP) – The Latest on Game 4 of the NBA Finals (all times local):

11:40 p.m.

Shocking news! LeBron James makes Cleveland better.

He was plus-7 in 46 minutes in Game 3, but the Cavaliers were minus-12 in those 2 minutes without him on the floor and lost.

Same sort of thing is happening in Game 4 on Friday night.

The Cavs are up 120-104 with 9 minutes left. With James on the floor, the Cavs are a staggering plus-27. Without him, they’re minus-11.


11:25 p.m.

An unreal first half for Cleveland. A non-ejection for Draymond Green. An NBA Finals-record 19 3-pointers by the Cavs.

And there’s still one quarter to go Friday night in Game 4.

Kyrie Irving has 32 points and the Cavaliers lead Golden State 115-96 after three quarters. Green got a technical foul in the third quarter, which the Cavs thought was his second of the night – and ABC’s Doris Burke said the scorer’s table insisted the first tech was on Green as well.

But referee John Goble later clarified to ABC’s Mike Breen that the first-half tech was on Warriors coach Steve Kerr.

LeBron James has 29 points and Kevin Love has 23 for Cleveland, which has already set a Finals record with 20 3-pointers. Golden State set the record with 18 – on Wednesday.

Kevin Durant has 31 for Golden State. Green and Stephen Curry each have 14. And a fan who sat near the Warriors’ bench was ejected late in the third.


11:05 p.m.

LeBron James hasn’t been swept in a playoff series since the 2007 NBA Finals.

Cleveland is in position to keep that streak going.

The Cavaliers have cooled off a tiny bit in the second half, but still lead Golden State 104-91 in the third quarter of Game 4 on Friday night.

Draymond Green has picked up a technical foul. It was believed by the Cavs it was his second of the night, though the first one was actually assessed to Warriors coach Steve Kerr.

Golden State scored the first four points of the half – getting within 86-72 – and Cavs coach Tyronn Lue called an immediate (and smart) time-out, just 45 seconds into the quarter.

There’s a big streak on the line for Golden State, and it’s not just the 15-game winning streak in this postseason. The Warriors have won 107 consecutive games, going back to November 2014, when they shoot better than 50 percent.


10:40 p.m.

Cleveland has put together the highest-scoring half of any NBA Finals game.

It has been a staggering display by the Cavaliers, who lead Golden State 86-68 at halftime of Game 4 on Friday night. Not only is it the highest-scoring Finals half ever – previous record, 81 by Philadelphia against the Lakers in the second half on June 6, 1982 – but it’s the No. 2 scoring half ever in a playoff game.

Milwaukee scored 87 in the second half against Denver on April 23, 1978.

The Cavs have made 13 3-pointers. Kyrie Irving has 28 points, LeBron James has 22 and Kevin Love 17 for the Cavs.

Kevin Durant has 22 to lead Golden State.

The only other time in the last 50 years a team scored 68 points and was down by this much at halftime was in 1970, when the San Diego Rockets trailed the Cincinnati Royals 89-70 at the break.

It is the fifth time this season that a team had 80 or more at halftime. Cleveland had 81 points at halftime against Portland on Nov. 23. Brooklyn also dropped 81 in the first two quarters against Philadelphia on April 4, and Golden State had 80 at the break twice – against the Lakers on Nov. 23 and Indiana on Dec. 5.


10:15 p.m.

Stephen Curry finally has his first field goal of Game 4.

A 3-pointer with about 6 minutes left in the second quarter Friday night got the Warriors’ guard his first basket of the game, but he’ll need a whole lot more of those. Cleveland is still making just about everything, and leads 69-49 with 5:38 left until halftime.

Kyrie Irving is up to 21 points for the Cavs, while LeBron James has 15 and J.R. Smith 14 already.

One last note on Cleveland’s 49-point first quarter: The last time a team scored more than that in a first quarter was 1990, when Phoenix dropped 50 on Denver. And the Suns tacked on 57 more in the second quarter for good measure.

9:55 p.m.

Cleveland has set an NBA Finals record with 49 points in the first quarter.

Kevin Love has 14 points, Kyrie Irving has 11 and the Cavaliers lead Golden State 49-33 after one quarter of Game 4 on Friday night.

The record for any Finals quarter was 47, done by the Los Angeles Lakers in the third quarter against Boston on June 3, 1984. The previous record for a first quarter was 43 — set twice in the 1967 Finals by Philadelphia, against the San Francisco Warriors.

The Cavs had a chance for 50 in the quarter when LeBron James went to the line with 2.9 seconds left, but he came up way short on the first. It could have been worse: The Cavs missed eight free throws in the quarter.

James is on pace to become the first player to average a triple-double over an entire Finals. He’s got eight points, six assists and four rebounds already.

The bad news doesn’t end there for Golden State: Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala all have two fouls apiece already.

9:20 p.m.

As would be expected, Cleveland has come out flying in Game 4 of the NBA Finals.

J.R. Smith has made a pair of 3-pointers, Kyrie Irving has made two of his first three shots and Cleveland opened a quick 16-5 lead over Golden State at the first time-out Friday night.

The Warriors missed four of their first six shots.

The early 11-point lead was Cleveland’s biggest lead yet in The Finals.


9:10 p.m.

Game 4 has started in Cleveland.

Golden State’s quest for a championship, an NBA Finals sweep and the first perfect postseason in league history is underway. The Warriors lead this series 3-0 and if they win Game 4 on Friday night, the Larry O’Brien Trophy will be presented on the road for the third consecutive season.

Cleveland, of course, won Game 7 at Golden State last year; the Warriors won the crown in Game 6 at Cleveland in 2015.

It would be the fourth time LeBron James has lost a Finals on his home floor, joining 2007 (with Cleveland), 2011 (with Miami) and 2015.


8:50 p.m.

When Stephen Curry walked into Quicken Loans Arena Friday night for Game 4 of the NBA Finals, Odell Beckham Jr. was waiting for him.

Wearing a white hooded sweat shirt, the New York Giants receiver was standing near the entrance and called out to Curry as the Warriors star was walking through security.

“Hey, you know you can lose one,” Beckham yelled out. “Listen, you ain’t got to go undefeated.”

Curry smiled and went over to greet Beckham, a friend of LeBron James’ who has worked out with the Cleveland superstar.

If the Warriors finish off a sweep, this would be the earliest start to the NBA offseason since the Boston Celtics beat the Houston Rockets for the title on June 8, 1986.


8:35 p.m.

Oracle Arena is set up for a concert, not a basketball game.

That is, except for a massive image of the Larry O’Brien Trophy, prominently displayed on the middle of the floor.

Thousands of fans are expected at the home of the Golden State Warriors on Friday night, having gobbled up $20 tickets for an NBA Finals watch party at Oracle. Part of the ticket money is going to charity.

Game 4 in Cleveland will be shown on the huge overhead scoreboard at Oracle, the seats are all tinged in gold and a huge “Strength In Numbers” banner – the team motto – is on display as well.

Meanwhile, in Cleveland, some vendors outside the Cavs’ arena apparently are preparing for the likelihood that this is the last home game of the season. NBC Sports Bay Area, the broadcaster for Golden State games, tweeted out a photo where one vendor was offering Finals merchandise before Game 4 at a 50 percent discount.


6:50 p.m.

The Cleveland Cavaliers know something about historic comebacks.

They need another one, starting Friday night in Game 4 of the NBA Finals.

No NBA team had overcome a 3-1 deficit in the Finals until LeBron James and the Cavs did it a year ago, storming back and stunning defending champion Golden State. The Warriors failed to crown a regular season in which they set a record with 73 wins.

No team has ever recovered from the 3-0 deficit facing the Cavaliers this year. Teams are 0-126 in the same situation.

Still, veteran guard Richard Jefferson said following Friday’s shootaround the Cavs aren’t giving up or giving in. He said “most of the guys in our locker room have done something that’s never been done in the history of the game of basketball. We understand the task is large, we understand the task has not been done before.”

Jefferson said the Cavs are not guaranteeing four victories in a row.

He said they are going to come out as a confident group, play hard and give themselves a chance in Game 4.

“Then go on to the next game,” Jefferson said, “and then go on to the next game and see what happens.”


4:45 p.m.

Steve Kerr hasn’t talked to any of the old-timers who say their teams would have beaten his Golden State Warriors.

But he sarcastically responded to them Friday before Game 4 of the NBA Finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers, saying they were right and “they would all kill us.”

With the Warriors unbeaten in the postseason and a victory away from a second title in three years, a number of former players have said their teams would have beaten them. Magic Johnson has said that his Lakers would probably have even done it in a sweep.

Kerr mockingly agreed, saying after the Warriors’ shootaround that “the game gets worse as time goes on” and “players are less talented than they used to be.”

He added: “The guys in the ’50s would have destroyed everybody.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s