NBA

Did Game 1 goat J.R. Smith lie about knowing the score?

After Cleveland's heartbreaking Game 1 NBA Finals defeat to the Warriors on Thursday night, Cavs guard J.R. Smith gave what appeared to be a conflicting comment on whether he knew what the score was in the dying seconds of the fourth quarter that eventually allowed Golden State to escape with a 124-114 overtime win. Did he lie to save face?

'I knew we were tied,' claims Cleveland guard

Cleveland Cavaliers guard J.R. Smith, centre, made a costly blunder at the end of regulation which ultimately cost his team Game 1 of the NBA Finals. (Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)

The debate continues to rage on. 

After Cleveland's heartbreaking Game 1 NBA Finals defeat to the Warriors on Thursday night, Cavaliers guard J.R. Smith gave what appeared to be a conflicting comment on whether he knew what the score was in the dying seconds of the fourth quarter that eventually allowed Golden State to escape with a 124-114 overtime win.

To recap: Cleveland was down 107-106 with 4.7 seconds remaining in regulation when Cavs guard George Hill stepped to the free-throw line to attempt two shots. Hill made the first shot but missed the second. However, Smith was able to corral the offensive rebound following Hill's second miss, but instead of shooting or finding an open teammate, he dribbled the ball away from the key in an attempt to run out the clock — a mind-boggling move that ultimately cost Cleveland the game.

Replays appeared to show Smith mouth to a frustrated LeBron James that he thought the Cavs were leading, but during his post-game interview, Smith denied saying such a thing.

"We had a tied ball game. We had a timeout and I was trying to get enough space — because obviously KD [Durant] is standing right there — to bring it out and maybe get a shot off and then I looked over at Bron and he looked like he was trying to call timeout, so I just stopped and then the game was over," Smith told reporters after the game. "I knew we were tied. I thought we were just gonna call a timeout because I got the rebound.

"If I thought we were ahead, I would have just held on to the ball so they could foul me. Clearly that wasn't the case."

But Cleveland head coach Tyronn Lue contracted Smith when asked about the last play of regulation. 

"He thought it was over. He thought we were up one," Lue said.

So was Smith lying to save face?

Regardless whether or not Smith knew the score, NBA TV's Grant Hill described the event as a "mental meltdown," but also believes that Hill should be held accountable as well for not making his free throws. 

The bottom line is that the Cavs are now down 1-0 in the series against the heavily favoured Warriors. It also spoiled a career-high 51 points in an NBA Finals from James. 

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