NPR Staff Painfully Recount Game 1 Of The NBA Finals Last night in Game 1 of the NBA Finals, what appeared to be an unbelievable blunder by guard J.R. Smith seems to have cost Cleveland the game. NPR staff recount his mistake.
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NPR Staff Painfully Recount Game 1 Of The NBA Finals

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NPR Staff Painfully Recount Game 1 Of The NBA Finals

NPR Staff Painfully Recount Game 1 Of The NBA Finals

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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People can't stop talking about the epic failure that went down in Game 1 of the NBA finals.


Yeah. It had been an exciting game on ABC last night between the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers. And then - well, I'm going to let our colleagues pick it up from here. Our producer Becky Sullivan set out in the NPR newsroom with her microphone.

BECKY SULLIVAN, BYLINE: All right. Did you watch the game last night?



JABLONSKI: Are you going to make me recall this?

SULLIVAN: Can you take me through just, like, the last, you know, 10 or so seconds of regulation? Like, what happened?




LAURA ROMAN, BYLINE: The Cavs were down by one point.

EVSTATIEVA: It is 107-106.

JABLONSKI: The Cavs had the ball. There was - what? - 4 seconds.

ROMAN: Four-point-seven seconds left on the clock.

JABLONSKI: It was the longest 4 (laughter) seconds of my life.

OMAR: Up until that point, Lebron James had scored...

EVSTATIEVA: Forty-nine points.

OMAR: Carried the team on his back singlehandedly, Lebron and his band of merry misfits.


UNIDENTIFIED ANNOUNCER #1: James passes aside and a foul call on Thompson.

OMAR: Teammate gets fouled, gets sent to the line.

ROMAN: George Hill was shooting free throws.

OMAR: Two free throws to win the game.

CARTER: So the Cavs hit one free throw, miss the second.

OMAR: Misses the second.

ROMAN: So then it was 107-107.

CARTER: It's tied.


ROMAN: The Cavs got the rebound.

OMAR: J.R. Smith gets the rebound.

JABLONSKI: And they're at the Cavaliers' basket, so all he needs to do is to...

OMAR: Shoot the ball, take time-out, do anything but just stand there and let the clock run out.

EVSTATIEVA: But then...

CARTER: Inexplicably...

EVSTATIEVA: ...He dribbles away.

CARTER: ...Runs away from the basket.

JABLONSKI: Why aren't they shooting? And he's just dribbling the ball.

ROMAN: Which is what you would do if you were trying to run out the clock.

JABLONSKI: And then it hit me.

OMAR: He thought that they were winning, and he was just dribbling the time out. And they were not winning.

ROMAN: It was 107-107.

CARTER: It's tied.

JABLONSKI: He didn't realize that he had to take the shot.


UNIDENTIFIED ANNOUNCER #2: You get the feeling J.R. Smith thought they had the lead. He didn't know the score.

CARTER: When the buzzer sounded, they just looked so defeated.

EVSTATIEVA: And then LeBron James is just staring at him.

CARTER: Just, like, an incredulous look on his face. He's like, what is happening?

ROMAN: It's the face of the greatest basketball player of all time, in my opinion, who scored 51 points only to watch, like, a starting member of the Cavaliers lose the game for them.

OMAR: I've scored 51 points here, historical game, and you guys can't do anything right.

EVSTATIEVA: It was just, like, breaking my heart.

CARTER: I cannot believe that that happened, honestly.

ROMAN: How can you keep playing after that? That's what - you have to play a whole overtime period.

OMAR: And anyone who was watching that game knew that when it went to overtime, it was not going to work out for these guys.

ROMAN: (Laughter) They totally lost.

CARTER: Oh, yeah. It wasn't even close in overtime.

EVSTATIEVA: LeBron is carrying his team on his shoulders, pushing these people to be a little better than mediocre. And they ruined it.

JABLONSKI: I'm from Cleveland. I thought we had it. And then we didn't. It was cruel, Becky.

KELLY: (Laughter) NPR's Renita Jablonski, Brandon Carter, Ahmad Omar, Monika Evstatieva and Laura Roman speaking to our producer, the very cruel Becky Sullivan.

CORNISH: J.R. Smith says he knew it was tied and didn't shoot because he thought the Cavs were going to call a time-out. Game 2 is Sunday night.

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