LOS ANGELES (AFP) – LeBron James’s “worst” was too much for Toronto on Tuesday as the Cleveland superstar and his Cavs teammates rallied to stun the Toronto Raptors 113-112 in overtime in game one of their NBA playoff second-round series.
It was a heart-breaker for the Raptors, who led throughout regulation only to see James knot the score at 105-105 with 30.9 seconds left in regulation.
Toronto, the Eastern Conference top seeds for the first time in franchise history, missed their last 11 shots of regulation.
Cleveland’s Kyle Korver opened overtime with a three-pointer and the Cavs held on for the victory and a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference set.
“It was an all-around team win for us,” James said after five Cavs players scored in double figures. “Everybody contributed tonight, and we needed it.”
After the high drama in Toronto, all eyes were on Stephen Curry in Oakland, where the two-time NBA Most Valuable Player scored 28 points in his return from a 16-game injury absence to help the reigning champion Golden State Warriors to a 121-116 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans.
The Warriors took a 2-0 lead in their best-of-seven Western Conference series, with Curry looking fit and confident as he came off the bench late in the first quarter.
“Everything changed as soon as he walked on the floor,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said of Curry’s impact.
Curry had not played since suffering a sprained left knee ligament on March 23.
But he got off to a confident start, quickly draining a three-pointer, and the Warriors, who trailed 18-11 when Curry entered the game, were up 58-55 by halftime.
“He was Steph,” Kerr said. “He doesn’t take long to warm up, that’s for sure.” Curry connected on eight of 15 shots from the field and five-of-10 from three-point range. He pulled down seven rebounds with two assists and three steals.
Kevin Durant paced the Warriors with 29 points, seven assists and six rebounds and Draymond Green fell one rebound shy of a triple double with 20 points, 12 assists and nine boards.
“Big win for us,” Curry said after a game that saw 13 lead changes, 11 of them in the first half.
There was no such back-and-forth in Toronto, where the Raptors led until James tied it up in the final minute of regulation.
Once Korver put them in front at the start of overtime, they wouldn’t relinquish the lead.
Kyle Lowry converted a three-point play to pull Toronto within 113-112 with 57 seconds remaining but Toronto’s Fred VanVleet missed a potential game-winner.
James, who said he was “burnt” after the Cavs clinched a seven-game first-round win over Indiana on Sunday, made just 12 of 30 shots from the floor but still recorded the 21st playoff triple-double of his career with 26 points, 13 assists and 11 rebounds.
“I definitely wasn’t as efficient as I like to be,” James said. “I missed a lot of open looks. It was probably one of my worst games of the season. “But at the end of the day the only thing that matters is that my team-mates stepped up and got the win when I wasn’t at my best.”
JR smith scored 20 points and Korver added 19. Tristan Thompson came off the bench to add 14 points and 12 rebounds for the Cavs and Jordan Clarkson chipped in 16 points.
“We didn’t play great, but we played tough,” said Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue, whose Cavs trailed by as many as 14 in the first half. “We stayed the course.”