The Cleveland Cavaliers have been known as a one-man team, with that one man being the top player in the world, LeBron James. That description of them could not be more true than what we saw on Thursday night, as James's 51-point effort went to waste in a 124-114 overtime loss to the Golden State Warriors in Game 1 of the NBA Finals. The Cavs nearly had the game won at the end of regulation, but two major mistakes sent the game to overtime. LeBron's slick pass under the basket found George Hill, who was fouled by Klay Thompson. Hill's first free throw tied the game up, but his second one did not fall, which lead to mistake No. 2. J.R. Smith was able to grab the offensive rebound, but instead of putting a shot back up before time expired, Smith ran the ball to half court, running out the rest of the time. James, who was right next to him screaming for the ball, gave his teammate a stunned stare as the buzzer sounded. Smith could be seen saying "I thought we were ahead," which he denied every saying after the game. Golden State would waste little time in the extra period to pull away, outscoring the Cavs, 17-7, in those five minutes. Steph Curry led the way with 29 points, while Kevin Durant overcame more shooting struggles to put up 22 points. James finished the night at 19-for-32 shooting with eight assists and eight rebounds, recording his eighth 40-point game this postseason, which ties Jerry West's record from 1965 for most in a single postseason in NBA history. The Warriors will host Game 2 of the series on Sunday night at Oracle Arena, where they have won 18 of their past 19 postseason games.
Braves Top Nationals to Take Back First Place
For the first time in nearly two months, the Washington Nationals took over first place in the NL East Division, but unfortunately for them, that lasted just one day. Sean Newcomb threw seven strong innings, as the Atlanta Braves jumped a half game ahead of the Nats with a 4-2 victory on Thursday night. Newcomb allowed just two runs in the first three innings before settling down for his sixth straight win. The win for the Braves snapped the Nationals' six-game winning streak overall, as well as their 10-game road win streak. The only loss of the season for Newcomb came against Washington on April 2nd, but he has since posted a 2.16 ERA in 10 starts. The right-hander retired 14 of the final 15 batters he faced on Thursday, as Anthony Rendon was the only player to get to him by driving in both runs for Washington. Newcomb was coming off a tough outing against the Boston Red Sox where he lasted just three innings, but did not get a decision in the 8-6 loss. He was very efficient against their division rivals on Thursday, throwing 93 pitches, 61 of which were for strikes. The pitcher even helped himself with an RBI on a fielder's choice, while Freddie Freeman's RBI double in the third inning but the Braves up for good. These two teams will play three more games at SunTrust Park this weekend, including on Friday night.
Cardinals Rally Past Pirates on Walk-off HR
The NL Central has been a tight, four-team race so far this season, but the Milwaukee Brewers are starting to create some distance ahead of the pack. The St. Louis Cardinals are doing their best to keep pace, and a thrilling win like Thursday night certainly will help. Yairo Munoz hit a walk-off, three-run home run in the ninth to cap off a stunning rally for a 10-8 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Cardinals score five runs in the final inning, four of which went against Felipe Vasquez, who surrendered the game-ending long ball. The Cardinals trailed by three entering the final frame, but a game full of big innings stayed true to its form to end in the Cards' favor. Francisco Cervelli had just highlighted a four-run eighth for the Pirates with a three-run blast that gave them an 8-5 lead. Josh Bell also went deep for Pittsburgh, who fell to 12-14 away from home. They have struggled at Busch Stadium as of late, dropping five in a row and 12 of their past 14 games there. Before Munoz became the hero, he had only knocked in five runs in 21 games, but had the at-bat of his young career on Thursday. Luke Voit, who was just called up from Triple-A on Thursday, started the comeback with a two-run single to cut the deficit to one. St. Louis now sits 4.5 games behind the Milwaukee Brewers, with the Chicago Cubs between the two, just a half game ahead of the Redbirds. The Cardinals will stay home all weekend for three more games with the Pirates, with Game 2 coming on Friday night.