Warriors mount huge comeback, but fall to Lakers 104-101


Warriors mount huge comeback, but fall to Lakers 104-101


OAKLAND The Warriors overcame a 16-point first-half deficit and had a lead against the Lakers with inside of 90 seconds remaining. But Kobe Bryant made a pair of clutch jump shots, and the Lakers wound up with the win.Lakers 104, Warriors 101Player of the game: Matt Barnes came off the Lakers bench and gave them some real nice minutes. Barnes, who played the whole fourth quarter, finished with 18 points, 10 rebounds and three assists in 30 minutes.Key stretch: After David Lee (23 points, nine rebounds) had put the Warriors up 97-95 with 1:22 remaining, Kobe Bryant went to work. Bryant, who had been struggling from the field, buried a contested jumper from the baseline with 1:05 left to tie the game.Then after a Klay Thompson miss, Bryant hit another contested jumper again over Brandon Rush with 32.3 seconds remaining to give the Lakers a 99-97 lead.My mother and father didnt raise any fools, Warriors coach Mark Jackson said. I fully understand were playing against the Los Angeles Lakers with a guy who is an absolute assassin. When you look at the rosters, the starting lineup, if I was a betting man it would have been safe to say the Lakers would drill us.

But Ive got a bunch of guys that compete, get after it, work extremely hard and have tremendous character and pride. We gave ourselves a chance. Im proud of them and I told them that.After Rush missed a tough left-handed drive with 25 seconds left, the Warriors were forced to foul.Bryant finished with 30 points, but shot just 9-for-24 from the field.On that last shot, my hand hit his hand, Rush said. So I thought it was good defense. Hes one of the greatest players to play the game and he managed to make the shot. Thats what he does.Rebounding issues: Defensively, the Warriors did pretty well in the first half, holding the Lakers to 44 percent shooting from the field. But the Warriors had trouble on the glass, and subsequently gave up too many second-chance points.By halftime, the Lakers had a 28-17 edge on the glass, with Gasol grabbing 13 rebounds in 18 first-half minutes.Its just a bunch of bad news bears that find a way to compete, Jackson said of his team.

Bench play: Former Warrior Matt Barnes had a wonderful first half for the Lakers, scoring 10 points, grabbing six rebounds and handing out three assists in just 13 minutes.Barnes, a member of the 2006-07 We Believe Warriors, knocked down two of three 3-pointers and was his usual bothersome self on the defensive end.Meanwhile, the Warriors didnt get much out of their subs. Mickell Gladness, Richard Jefferson, Brandon Rush and Dominic McGuire combined to shoot 2-for-9 in the first half and total just seven points.But boy did things change in the second half particularly for Rush and McGuire. Rush had 21 of his 23 points in the second half, and McGuire defended and even did a nice job at point guard.McGuire ended up with four points, seven rebounds and five assists.No Nate: Point guard Nate Robinson warmed up before the game and was in uniform, but he wound up not playing because of a strained right hamstring.Jenkins started in Robinsons place his 11th start of the season. Jenkins, who was coming off a career-high 27 points against Portland on Sunday, got off to a slow start, missing three of his first four shots as the Warriors fell behind 18-12.Jackson subbed for Jenkins with three-plus minutes in the first quarter, then brought him back midway through the second. Jenkins seemed to get his sea legs under him in his second stint, and he scored eight points in the second quarter.Jenkins finished the first half with 10 points and two assists.

Kerr continues to weigh options regarding return to Warriors' bench

Kerr continues to weigh options regarding return to Warriors' bench

OAKLAND -- Though he insists he has made no final decision about returning to coach the Warriors in the NBA Finals, Steve Kerr conceded Monday that he likely would remain in the background throughout the series that begins Thursday

“As of right now, I would not coach,” he said after practice.

“I’m alright; I’m not well enough to coach a game. And I know that from . . . I coached all 82 games and I felt OK. I was uncomfortable and in a lot of pain, but I did fine. I could make it through. The first two games of the Portland series, whatever happened, things got worse.”

Though Kerr has been a constant presence over the past two weeks, this was the first time he presided over practice. Acting coach Mike Brown was ill Monday and did not come to the facility.

“I’d like to tell you that I’m ready, but I’m not ready to coach yet,” Kerr said. “I’m still feeling a lot of the effects of what I’ve got going on.

“I told the team the good news is the team is really healthy, the bad news is the coaching staff is dropping like flies. Hopefully, Mike will be back (Tuesday).”

Kerr last coached a game on April 19, Game 2 of the first-round Western Conference playoff series against the Trail Blazers. He flew with the team to Portland for Games 3 and 4 but did not coach either game. It was on April 23, between Games 3 and 4, that Kerr announced he was taking a leave of absence to pursue remedies for chronic pain in the wake of multiple back surgeries.

The Warriors have gone 10-0 under Brown, who is in frequent communication with Kerr ever since May 10, when the team began preparations for the conference finals.

“I’ve been in every meeting since the San Antonio series started,” Kerr said. “Every film session, every practice. I address the team quite a bit; I think my messaging is important.”

Though Kerr said he plans to accompany the team to Cleveland next week for Games 3 and 4 of The Finals, he continues to weigh his options regarding returning to the bench.

“Once we get to Game 1,” he said, ‘it might be a good time to make a decision one way or the other.”

LeBron doesn't care about long Finals odds: 'I only play blackjack in Vegas'

LeBron doesn't care about long Finals odds: 'I only play blackjack in Vegas'

INDEPENDENCE, Ohio -- There's a four-headed, shot-making, scoreboard-breaking monster out West awaiting LeBron James and the Cavaliers.

The Warriors are stomach-churning scary.

James, though, can't run or hide. With eight NBA Finals appearances under his belt, he is ready to face a team he's called "a beast." After all, he has slayed behemoths before.

Pushing off any talk about the Warriors until after Sunday's practice, James was asked to assess the task at hand: beating Golden State's All-Star-studded lineup of Kevin DurantStephen CurryKlay Thompson and Draymond Green.

Is this the biggest challenge of his career?

"It's probably up there," he said. "I mean, it's up there."

And then, almost as if he was trying to remind himself that he's got three championship rings and is frightful in his own right, James recalled other fearsome postseason opponents - San Antonio and Boston.

"I've played against four Hall of Famers as well, too, with Manu (Ginobili), Kawhi (Leonard), Tony (Parker) and Timmy D (Tim Duncan) on the same team," said James, occasionally sniffling as he continues to fight a cold. "And if you add Pop (coach Gregg Popovich) in there, that's five Hall of Famers. So, it's going to be very challenging. Those guys are going to challenge me, they're going to challenge our ballclub.

"This is a high-powered team."

James also took on a Celtics team loaded with big-name talents.

"I've played against Ray (Allen), KG (Kevin Garnett), Paul (Pierce), (Rajon) Rondo and Doc (Rivers). So, it's going to be very challenging not only on me mentally, but on our ballclub and on our franchise."

Cleveland-Golden State 3.0 is the matchup fans worldwide expected and wanted, and James believes they're in for quite a show.

Both the Cavaliers and Warriors have upgraded their rosters from a year ago, when they went seven games in an epic series that spawned the first comeback from a 3-1 deficit in Finals history and resulted in Cleveland winning its first pro sports championship since 1964.

That Warriors team James conquered in 2016 won 73 games during the regular season and was being mentioned as one of the best to ever take the floor.

Hard to believe, but this version - with Durant - might be even better.

Golden State has been putting on a basketball clinic over the past two months, winning 27 of 28 games since March 11 and becoming the first squad to start the postseason 12-0.

Durant, who previously faced James in the 2012 Finals with Golden State, has taken a great team and elevated it to a nearly unstoppable level.

The Warriors are using Durant in every imaginable way on offense, and James isn't surprised to see his good friend and Olympic teammate more mobile than he was with the Thunder.

"You adapt to the culture," he said. "You adapt to the style and that's the same thing that happened to me when I went to Miami. I started to slash more and move more without the ball, shoot more standstill 3s and figure out ways I could be more productive than just having the ball in isolation. So, it's the right thing to do. He's one of the most dangerous guys we have in the world already. So it makes it even more dangerous when you equip that talent, that skill with those guys."

On the brink of becoming the first player since the early 1960s to play in seven straight Finals, James finds himself in a similar - and somewhat surprising - situation.

The Cavaliers are being given little chance to defend their title against the vaunted Warriors, who have been winning by an average of 16.3 points per game in the playoffs.

For the sixth time, James enters the Finals as an underdog, hardly a role he's accustomed to before June. The only time he won a championship as a Finals favorite was with Miami in 2013, when the Heat upended the Spurs for their second straight title.

James isn't worried about point spreads or any odds.

"I only play blackjack in Vegas anyway, so it doesn't matter," he said.

What does matter is that the 32-year-old is having one of his finest postseasons, and the Cavs are gelling the way they did at this time last year.

Maybe James has nothing to fear.

"I feel good about our chances," he said. "Very good."