OAKLAND, Calif. – Kevin Durant capped his spectacular first season with the Warriors by bringing home that coveted NBA championship he joined Golden State in July so determined to get, scoring 39 points in a fast-and-furious, Finals-clinching 129-120 victory over LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday night.
Stephen Curry added 34 points, 10 assists and six rebounds in Game 5 as Golden State closed out its second title in three years after squandering a 3-1 lead a year ago to the Cavaliers to miss a repeat. That stung ever since, and even Durant understood, because he gave up the same lead to the Warriors a round earlier with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
“You can talk about whatever you want to talk about, but nobody comes in and cares about the game or loves the game as much as I do or works as hard as do I at the basketball game,” Durant said. “ You can talk about whatever happens on the outside, but inside those lines, I come to bring it every day. I work hard, I believe in myself, I believe in the game, I respect the game, I love the game, and I knew at some point in my life that it will come around for me.”
James, who in 2012 with the Miami Heat beat the Thunder in Durant’s only other Finals, wound up with 41 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists. Cleveland’s Kyrie Irving followed up his 40-point gem in Friday’s Game 4 with 26 points but shot 9 for 22.
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This time, King James gave way to KD. The former Sonic was voted NBA Finals MVP, 10 years after being picked second in the NBA draft behind Greg Oden, an Ohio State center who was selected by Portland.
Durant drove left, right and down the middle, knocked down three-pointers, dished and dunked in Game 5 of the best-of-seven series. He knocked down a 17-foot fadeaway over James early in the fourth quarter, then assisted on a three-pointer by Andre Iguodala the next time down as the Warriors pulled away.
Iguodala, the 2015 Finals MVP, came up big with his 2017 postseason-best 20 points off the bench and stingy defense on James in a testy, tightly called finale to this trilogy Finals that many had stamped on the calendar from the moment Durant departed Oklahoma City to join Curry and Co.
The Warriors won in 2015 before Cleveland made its historic comeback last year.
Durant shot 14 for 20 and Curry — the two-time reigning league MVP who took a back seat as the new big star got acclimated — finished off a brilliant postseason.
“We learned from everything we’ve been through,” Curry said during the presentation of the Larry O’Brien Trophy. “To be back here, bring ol’ Larry back home, I’m just excited to do something special. I’m ready to do it again.”
Draymond Green of the Warriors…