OAKLAND, California (AP) — Kevin Durant drove through the lane untouched for dazzling dunks. He dished off even when he could have slammed it home, and did it all on defense.
Oh, he hit from long range, too.
What a dominant NBA Finals opener with the Warriors.
Durant finished with 38 points, eight rebounds and eight assists to lead Golden State past LeBron James and the defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers, 113-91 on Thursday night in Game 1.
As this highly anticipated rematch tipped off at last, the biggest difference from last year was clear.
“KD,” James said.
Stephen Curry did his share by scoring 28 points with six 3-pointers and 10 assists as this sure-to-be thrilling trilogy began, a long-expected, spectacular grand finale envisioned ever since that July day Durant left Oklahoma City to join the loaded Warriors.
“We could be a lot better than we were tonight but in the Finals you get a `W,’ we’ll take it,’’ Durant said.
James wound up with 28 points, 15 rebounds and eight assists a day after dealing with bigotry far away from basketball. Someone painted a racial slur on the gate of his Los Angeles home, leaving James to address racism rather than his seventh straight Finals appearance or stopping KD. James said he would do his best to be ready for the series opener when his mind was elsewhere, concerned for his wife and children back in Ohio.
“We did a great job of covering the 3-point line but other than that they played a hell of a game,” James said.
Durant punished Cleveland for leaving him free, taking the ball to the hoop for emphatic dunks as a man on a mission to deliver what he came for: a championship. He had six slams in the first half alone for the Warriors, who at 13-0 are already the first team to go this far in a postseason unblemished.
“They’re the best I’ve ever seen,” Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said. “They’re 13-0. They’re constantly breaking records every year.’’
Game 2 in the series is Sunday night back at Oracle Arena with its deafening sellout crowd.