June 1, 2018 / 6:34 AM / in 22 days

King James rules the court in heroic Game One defeat

OAKLAND (Reuters) - LeBron James said the fact that his 51-point performance in Game One of the NBA Finals on Thursday ended with a Cleveland Cavaliers loss underscores just how difficult it will be to dethrone the defending champion Golden State Warriors.

May 31, 2018; Oakland, CA, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) shoots the ball against Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green (23) in game one of the 2018 NBA Finals at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Ezra Shaw/pool photo via USA TODAY Sports

James was sensational throughout the tightly contested affair which the Warriors won 124-114 when their potent offense moved up a gear in overtime.

“We understand how difficult and how challenging this task is,” James told reporters after the game, which marked the fourth consecutive year the teams have met in the Finals.

“You take it all the way throughout the night thinking about it and ways you could have been better and plays that could have happened that could have gone your way and didn’t go your way or things you could have done.

“And you wake up tomorrow with a fresh mind and you move forward.”

One thing that did not go the Cavs’ way was a blocking call on James, which officials initially ruled as a charge against Warriors forward Kevin Durant with the change of decision allowing Golden State to tie the game in the final minute.

May 31, 2018; Oakland, CA, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) speaks during a press conference after game one of the 2018 NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

The Cavs also had the ball with a little less than five seconds to play when guard J.R. Smith secured a rebound on a missed free throw but failed to get a shot off with the game tied at 107-107.

The night was a historic one for James, who is the only player other than Michael Jordan to score more than 50 points in a Finals game since 1970.

His performance drew strong praise from Warriors coach Steve Kerr, who played alongside Jordan at the Chicago Bulls.

“They have a guy who is playing basketball at a level that I’m not sure anybody’s ever seen before, when you consider everything he’s doing,” Kerr said.

May 31, 2018; Oakland, CA, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) shoots the ball against Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green (23) in game one of the 2018 NBA Finals at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

James, who has carried his fourth-seeded Cavs to his eighth consecutive NBA Finals, said the key to success would be staying aggressive and getting his team mates involved.

“I just try to do whatever it takes to help our team win and try to be a triple threat out on the floor offensively and being able to score, rebound, and get my guys involved,” he said

Asked if the loss was one of the most disappointing of his career in Finals games, James said it probably was.

“Because it’s right now, I would say yeah because I always live in the present,” he said.

“I think we played as well as — tonight we played as well as we’ve played all post-season, and we gave ourselves a chance possession after possession after possession.

“There were just some plays that were kind of taken away from us. Simple as that.”

The Cavaliers and Warriors meet for Game Two of the best-of-seven series in Oakland on Sunday.

Reporting by Rory Carroll; Editing by John O'Brien

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