OAKLAND, Calif. — As a fresh NBA champions cap sat a tad off-kilter on his head, Kevin Durant embraced mother Wanda. Then he moved across the podium and hugged Stephen Curry before accepting his shiny MVP trophy, holding out his arms and hoisting it for everyone to see.
Durant capped his spectacular first season with the Warriors by bringing home that coveted NBA championship he joined Golden State last July so determined to get, scoring 39 points in a fast-and-furious, Finals-clinching 129-120 victory over LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 5 on Monday night.
Stephen Curry added 34 points, 10 assists and six rebounds as Golden State closed out its second title in three years after squandering a 3-1 lead a year ago. That stung ever since, and even Durant understood, because he gave up the same lead to the Warriors a round earlier with Oklahoma City.
James, who in 2012 with Miami beat the Thunder in Durant’s only other Finals, wound up with 41 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists.
Kyrie Irving followed up his 40-point gem in Game 4 with 26 points but shot 9 for 22.
This time, King James gave way to KD, who was the NBA Finals MVP 10 years after being picked second in the NBA draft behind Greg Oden.
Durant drove left, right and down the middle, knocked down 3-pointers, dished and dunked. He hit a 17-foot fadeaway over James early in the fourth quarter, then assisted on a 3-pointer by Andre Iguodala the next time down as the Warriors pulled away.
Iguodala, the 2015 Finals MVP, came up big again with his 2017 postseason-best 20 points off the bench in a testy, tightly called finale to this trilogy Finals that everyone had stamped on the calendar from the moment Durant departed Oklahoma City to join Curry and Co. last July.
Green stayed on the court in a game that featured three technicals on one play 3:08 before halftime. David West fought for the ball with Irving, then they got tangled up and Tristan Thompson entered the fray and he and West went at each other face-to-face. West, Thompson and J.R. Smith received techs after a replay review.
Green had sat out this very game a year ago, suspended because of flagrant foul point accumulation after he swiped at James’ groin in Game 4. He had 10 points, 12 rebounds and five assists in the clincher.
Golden State used a 28-4 second-quarter run to take charge — just after it appeared Durant should have been called for a third foul on a basket by James — and got to celebrate right at home in Oakland surrounded by a deafening home crowd waving yellow rally towels and holding up phones to shoot video and photos as the final minute of the clock ticked away.
The Warriors became the first Bay Area team to capture a championship at home since the A’s finished the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 5 of the 1974 World Series.
A year ago, these Warriors fell short after a record-setting season that included a 24-0 start and 73 victories at the end to break the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls’ wins mark.