Photo Courtesy: USA Today

How the Refs Ruined LeBron’s Historic Night

LeBron Scores 51 and still loses

June 01, 2018 - 11:18 am

By Austin Medina

LeBron James had arguably the greatest single-game performance in NBA Finals history. He scored 51 points! He scored 51 on 59% shooting along with eight assists and eight rebounds. It was the first 50-point game in the Finals since Michael Jordan did so in 1993.

Defensively LeBron took the task of guarding Kevin Durant, who is typically regarded as the second best player in the world, behind the King. Although the Cavaliers switched on and off Durant, LeBron had a huge impact on Durant’s 8-22 shooting. Durant looked passive down the stretch and shot poorly, shooting airballs and bricking open looks.

So how did LeBron and the Cavaliers end up losing the game? A game where LeBron scored or assisted on 70 points?

In the fourth quarter (as mentioned earlier), Durant seemed shook. On two separate drives to the lane, he was stripped of the ball clean. The first came against George Hill, who couldn’t believe the referees called a foul.

Durant was given two free throws since he was in the bonus. He made both.

It was then LeBron who was called on a foul when in fact he stripped Durant clean.

Was this a foul on #LeBron or nah?

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The Cavaliers were up 92-91 with 6:43 left and Durant got two free throws instead of a forced turnover by LeBron. Durant made the first. Missed the second, but was tipped in by Kevon Looney.

Thereafter, the Cavaliers were up 94-92 after two made free throws by LeBron. As Durant drove down the lane to tie the game, LeBron stepped in front and was given the charge call. It should have been Cavaliers ball up two points with 36.4 seconds left. A foul of this magnitude can be only reviewed to determine if LeBron was in the restricted area. He was clearly outside the restricted area yet the referees reviewed the call. It was originally called a charge on the floor. After confirming the obvious (LeBron outside the restricted area), they reviewed if the foul was a charge or a blocking foul.

They reversed the call and gave Durant two free throws to tie the game (which he made) instead of the Cavaliers having the ball and the advantage. An unreal turn of events gave the Warriors all the extra help they needed to maintain the King and win Game 1.

Just to recap, Durant was given six free throws on highly questionable calls/reversals in the biggest game of the season, in Golden State. All these bailout calls for Durant solidified one certainty. He's nowhere near the greatness of Lebron James.

The Warriors were a 12.5 point favorite to defeat the Cavs in Game 1. Though they ended up winning 124-114 in overtime, it was the Cavs game for the taking. The officials, who have gotten it wrong two straight games in Golden State's favor, spoiled an incredible performance by James. The league has to address what’s been going on and quickly. With Game 2 on Sunday, should we expect LeBron to score 60 points to get a fair shake and win?

We’ll have to wait until Sunday to see.