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NBA: Cavs' Smith changes story on late-game mistake

(Reuters) - Cleveland Cavaliers guard J.R. Smith admitted on Saturday that he might not have been aware of the score during his late mistake in Game One of the NBA Finals.

June 13, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers guard J.R. Smith (5) reacts after being defended by Golden State Warriors center Andrew Bogut (not pictured) during the second half in game five of the NBA Finals at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports / Reuters Picture Supplied by Action Images

Smith grabbed an offensive rebound with 4.5 seconds remaining and the game tied at 107-107, and dribbled the ball in the wrong direction as time expired on the team’s chances to win in regulation.

In the aftermath of his team’s deflating 124-114 overtime loss on Thursday, the veteran guard had initially said that he was aware the score was tied.

“After thinking about it a lot the last 24 hours, or however many since the game was over, I can’t say I was sure of anything at that point,” Smith told reporters.

Television cameras appeared to catch Smith telling team mate LeBron James that he thought the Cavs were ahead after the fourth quarter ended.

“I might have said that,” Smith said. “I might have.”

Smith has faced enormous backlash from fans and media following the incident with Cleveland down 1-0 in the best-of-seven series.

The mercurial player said he is equipped to deal with it.

“That’s pretty much who I’ve been my whole life. I’ve always been the one guy who is the butt of the jokes or the one guy who does something crazy and everybody has got to look at or whatever the case may be,” Smith said.

“I told somebody right after the game that I’m glad it happened to me, as opposed to anybody else on my team.” Game Two is on Sunday in Golden State.

Writing by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles; editing by Sudipto Ganguly