Warriors beat Cavs despite 51 from James

Janie McCauley
Draymond Green and Stephen Curry played key roles in Golden State's Game 1 NBA finals win

Stephen Curry scored 29 points and Golden State capitalised on a Cavaliers' blunder that sent the game into overtime, withstanding a brilliant 51-point performance by LeBron James to beat Cleveland 124-114 in Game 1 of the NBA Finals on Thursday night.

The game nearly over, James traded insults with Curry and Klay Thompson, then Tristan Thompson and Draymond Green tangled moments later and made contact.

After replay review, Tristan Thompson received a Flagrant 2 foul and ejection with 2.6 seconds left.

James was in utter disbelief as regulation ended in stunning fashion: George Hill made the first of two free throws with 4.7 seconds left after being fouled by Klay Thompson.

But when J.R. Smith secured the rebound of the second shot, he dribbled back toward halfcourt instead of shooting, apparently thinking the Cavs had a lead.

"He thought it was over. He thought we were up one," coach Tyronn Lue said.

Instead, the game went into overtime.

Game 2 is Sunday night back at Oracle Arena, where the Warriors have won 18 of their last 19 postseason games.

In 2015, when Golden State beat the Cavs to capture the franchise's first title in 40 years, the first two games of the series went to OT - Golden State winning the opener and Cleveland Game 2.

James shot 19 for 32 to go with eight assists and eight rebounds in the opener of his eighth straight NBA Finals and ninth overall.

James notched his eighth 40-point game during this playoff run to tie Hall of Famer Jerry West's feat in 1965 for most in a single postseason.

James drove past Curry for a three-point play with 50 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter to give Cleveland a two-point lead.

But James was given a foul following a review with 36.4 seconds left and Kevin Durant converted a pair of free throws to tie it at 104. The call had initially been a charge on 2017 Finals MVP Durant and James protested the change.

Lue was disgusted to lose this way, saying of the call being overturned with James outside the restricted area that "it's never been done, ever in the history of the game".

Durant struggled with his shot but wound up with 26 points on 8-for-22 shooting and nine rebounds.