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Cavs win Game 1

Justin Marville

Cavs win Game 1

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THere have BEEN RIVALRIES.There’s been thrilling finishes.And then there was the latest chapter of the Lakers-Cavs drama.It was the most epic finish to Premier League basketball’s most epic rivalry, and in the end, reigning champs Mpact Station Hill Cavs barely survived Thursday night’s 103-100 triple overtime marathon in Game 1 of the finals against adversaries Lumber Company Lakers at the Wildey Gym.The stage couldn’t have been set any better for the instant classic – an unforgettable finish to the start of a fourth straight postseason meeting between two hated rivals who’ve spilt five of the last six titles.Yet the history and the hype failed to surpass the fight, which finally ended one and a half hours later than scheduled when Keefe Birkett missed a potential game-tying layup in the dying seconds of the third extra session. It proved the cruel conclusion to a marathon three-hour heavyweight bout that featured ten ties and seven lead changes in the fourth quarter and overtime periods alone.And none of those ties were as dramatic as Jamar King’s 19-foot buzzer-beating runner to end regulation which came as the cap to Lakers’ surreal 21-10 fourth quarter rally.If the post-season has made King’s legend, then the Gym is his palace and this series, a chance for his reprisal, as the Cavs former unheralded reserve looked the unlikely Lakers hero for the third time in four playoff games. His latest fourth quarter heroics was of the 14-point variety, allowing Lakers to erase a prior 60-47 hole that came on the heels of Kelvin Patterson and Junior Moore’s third quarter rampage.Station Hill still had a chance to put away the game in regulation though, even after Lakers locked the game at 71 with 1:24 remaining, but went a combined three of six from the line inside the final minute.And the last of those missed free throws was greeted with King’s last-second shot from the right wing, which came two steps inside the arc after he curled free towards the baseline from an inbounds play that started with 3.8 seconds to play.But if the Cavs missed their opportunity in regulation, then Lakers were guilty as charged in the first extra period, having squandered a decisive four-point advantage (82-78) mostly due to Andre Lockhart’s mental breakdown.Nothing defines the teams’ hatred more than Lockhart and Corey Williams’ feud, and nothing was more evident than the former’s frustrations during their back and forth banter, which eventually led to Lockhart missing a crucial free throw before going for an ill-advised one-on-one move.Williams eventually restored the Cavs lead (83-82) with 24 seconds left before Lakers Ormond Haynes split his potential game-winning free throws to send the game into a second overtime.Once there, Station Hill looked likely winners after Jason Smith hit a pair of treys as part of a quick 9-4 surge that gave the champs what appeared to be a decisive five-point advantage (92-87).But the Cavs added just a further two points in the session, going scoreless while Lakers briefly regained the lead by scoring six unanswered, before Lockhart missed a wide open midrange jumper at the horn with the game tied at 94.The contest was locked only time thereafter though, as Patterson and Moore hooked up for eight quick points – the last coming on a Lockhart turnover – to push ahead 102-98 inside the final minute.However, Lakers were afforded an opportunity to force a fourth overtime following a Boadu field goal and a crucial Patterson turnover, but Birkett gaffed a driving left-handed lay-up with 4.5 seconds to play.Moore split his ensuing free throws at the other end and Lockhart was forced to dribble the length of the floor for a futile half court heave at the buzzer as Lakers ran out of timeouts.Patterson led all scorers with 29 points, Andrew Alleyne added 17 while Smith and Moore chipped in with 16 and 12 respectively. King had a career-high 27 points, Birkett had a further 20 and Boadu scored 19 for Lakers, who will be looking to even the series tonight at the same venue.