SAN FRANCISCO -- Cleveland Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue vows that his team is prepared to continue to compete in the NBA Finals without any carryover effect from its staggering 124-114 Game 1 overtime loss to the Golden State Warriors.
"Listen, we're not broken -- we lost a game," Lue said on a conference call with reporters Friday. "You got to win four in this series -- we understand that and it was a tough game for us. We played well enough to win but we didn't, so now we've got to move on.
"They guys' confidence is not shaken. We see what we need to do and how we need to perform to win. We have the blueprint and now we need to execute at a higher level."
As many things that went right for Cleveland on Thursday -- LeBron James scored a career playoff-high 51 points; Kevin Love had 21 points and 13 rebounds; Larry Nance Jr. had nine points and 11 boards off the bench; the Cavs committed just 11 turnovers and held a lead with less than a minute left in regulation -- there also was a series of unfortunate events that cost them the game.
Cleveland held a two-point lead with 36.4 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter when Kevin Durant was called for a charge on James. Rather than being awarded the ball with a chance to extend to a two-possession lead, however, the call was overturned and deemed a block on James after a replay review.
After that, George Hill missed a free throw with 4.7 seconds remaining that would have put the Cavs up by one, and JR Smith, who rebounded Hill's miss, dribbled the ball out past the 3-point line rather than setting Cleveland up to take a shot before the clock expired.
Hill, a 10-year veteran playing in the Finals for the first time, called it the most disappointing loss of his career.
"This one hurt, this one hurt bad with a lot of things that went on," Hill said on a conference call Friday. "I felt like the team did a great job, put [ourselves] in a great chance to win the game, and me not hitting a free throw, kind of feel like I cost our team the win."
Hill said he carried the loss with him back to the team hotel after the game.
"I stayed up most of the night," he said. "Rewatching the free throw, rewatching the play, just going over my head what I think went wrong and things like that. As a player, a competitive guy, I was put in a situation to help my team win a game and I didn't come through. So for me, it sucked, it was one of the worst feelings ever. But I have great teammates that [have] been in my ear even last night and this morning telling me to forget about it, continue to just focus on the next game and don't let it linger. ...
"I blew that opportunity. But the good thing is it's a seven-game series and we have another game on Sunday."
Hill took exception to a reporter suggesting the Cavs were "demoralized" after Game 1 slipped away.
"I don't think none of us are demoralized," Hill said. "I think maybe you guys have us more demoralized than we have ourselves, so we're focusing on ourselves. We're going to bottle up all that frustration from Game 1 and carry it on to Game 2 ...
"We're the last two teams playing and we're going to fight it out. It shouldn't be a prom dance. You know it's going to be a fight."
It helps having James on your side going into that fight, of course, as the three-time champion and four-time MVP turned in one of his greatest performances ever in Game 1. So, Lue was asked, can James play any better as the series goes on?
"I hope so," Lue said with a laugh. "I know it's asking a lot, I know it's asking a lot, but we need him to lead by example, being aggressive, attacking the basket, and we know they're going to come and help [on defense]. They're a helping team and guys are going to get shots. If you don't have a shot, put it on the floor and make another play. He did that last night and he's got to keep it up."
Game 1's result hasn't changed Lue's faith in Smith. He will continue to start at shooting guard, the coach said.
"JR can shake off anything, and when everybody tends to count JR out, that's when he comes through," Lue said.
And it hasn't changed Lue's belief in the Cavs' chances against the Warriors.
"The game is over -- we can't do anything about it," Lue said. "The team understands we had a chance to win that game but we didn't, so we have to move on. We can't dwell on it; we can't live on that because then we won't be able to perform in Game 2. It's behind us and we're ready to go for Game 2."