J.R. Smith’s huge mistake costs Cavaliers a chance at Game 1 victory

2018 NBA Finals - Game One
LeBron James and JR Smith of the Cleveland Cavaliers react as time expries in regulation against the Golden State Warriors in Game 1. –Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Cleveland Cavaliers guard J.R. Smith made a huge mistake at the end of regulation in Game 1 of the NBA Finals Thursday night.

With the score tied 107-107, Smith secured the rebound of a missed free throw, then dribbled back toward half-court instead of shooting, apparently thinking the Cavaliers had a lead.

‘‘He thought it was over. He thought we were up one,’’ Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue said.

Instead, the game went to overtime, where the Golden State Warriors dominated and secured a 124-114 victory for a 1-0 series lead.

Smith said he knew the score was tied.

“I thought we were going to take a timeout because I got the rebound. I’m pretty sure everybody didn’t think I was going to shoot it over [Kevin Durant] right there,’’ he said. “If I thought we were ahead, I would have just held on to the ball and let them foul me.’’


Cavs star LeBron James would not speculate on Smith’s intentions.

‘‘I don’t know what J.R. was thinking,’’ James said.

Durant also declined to explain the play.

‘‘I can’t talk about a situation that way because I do some dumb stuff on the court,’’ Durant said. ‘‘I don’t know what was going through J.R.’s head. He made a great rebound and gave them an opportunity to win the basketball game.’’

More photos:

After the rebound, J.R. Smith turned toward midcourt instead of shooting. —Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
LeBron James urged Smith to do something immediately. —Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images
So Smith passed the ball. —Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images