Iguodala is better late than ever 

click to enlarge Andre Iguodala battled LeBron James possession after possession and scored 15 points of his own in 32 minutes of play. - BOB DONNAN/AP
  • Bob Donnan/ap
  • Andre Iguodala battled LeBron James possession after possession and scored 15 points of his own in 32 minutes of play.

OAKLAND — On this Thursday night, the King would still be King. But if not for the Warriors veteran Andre Iguodala, Oracle Arena would have been his court entirely.

In the NBA Finals opener, Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James finished with 44 points on 18-of-38 shooting, eight rebounds and six assists, but he was held scoreless for the final 2:37 of the fourth quarter and the first 4:51 of overtime. And Iguodala has a lot to do with that and his team's 108-100 triumph.

In the end, Iguodala battled James possession after possession in the paint, forced him into 38 shots (the most ever in his postseason career) and chipped in 15 points in 32 minutes himself. He also had two fourth-quarter 3-pointers and assists plus one momentum-changing steal in a hugely impactful performance.

"Well, the adrenaline was flowing, but it was a nice flow," Iguodala said. "It wasn't too high, and it kind of stayed with me the whole night ... When you get into a flow, as a kid, you play in socks all the time in your room, so you go back to those days, and just playing ball.

"[James] made some tough shots, and that's what we're going to try to do throughout the series, is make him make tough shots."

Aside from the incessant battles down-low defending James, perhaps no sequence best defined how integral Iguodala was more than the final seconds of the third quarter. He pick-pocketed an attacking James at one end, and threw down a typically emphatic jam over a helpless J.R. Smith at the other, knotting the score at 73-73 and sending Oracle into a frenzy.

Iguodala opened the fourth period with a 3-ball to make it 76-75 with 10:55 left, the Warriors' first lead of the half. His shadowing of James down the stretch helped close it out.

"[Andre] made it so tough on him that last quarter in the half," Klay Thompson said. "He has long arms, very active, some of the best hands I've ever seen ... [our depth] is wearing out teams, and Andre was a huge part of that tonight."

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Jack Ross

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