Twitter memes dunk all over JR Smith's blunder in NBA Finals

Instead of taking a shot, he dribbled away from the basket as time ran out, and the Cleveland Cavaliers lost in overtime.

Gael Cooper
CNET editor Gael Fashingbauer Cooper, a journalist and pop-culture junkie, is co-author of "Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops? The Lost Toys, Tastes and Trends of the '70s and '80s," as well as "The Totally Sweet '90s." She's been a journalist since 1989, working at Mpls.St.Paul Magazine, Twin Cities Sidewalk, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and NBC News Digital. She's Gen X in birthdate, word and deed. If Marathon candy bars ever come back, she'll be first in line.
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  • Co-author of two Gen X pop-culture encyclopedia for Penguin Books. Won "Headline Writer of the Year"​ award for 2017, 2014 and 2013 from the American Copy Editors Society. Won first place in headline writing from the 2013 Society for Features Journalism.
Gael Cooper
2 min read

There are a lot of ways to lose a basketball game, but during Game 1 of the NBA Finals in Oakland on Thursday night, Cleveland Cavaliers guard J.R. Smith discovered a whole new one.

With the game against the Golden State Warriors tied 107-107 as time ran out, Smith grabbed teammate George Hill's missed free throw and had a great chance to take the game-winning shot. But instead, it appeared he forgot the score, and thinking his team was ahead, hung on to the ball too long. The goof sent the game into overtime, and Golden State won, 124-114, wasting a 51-point performance by Cleveland's LeBron James.

Conflicting reports soon came in on what exactly Smith was thinking. Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said Smith mistakenly thought the team was leading, and didn't need the basket.

Smith himself claimed he knew the game was tied, and a lot of people did not buy it, pointing out that he seems to mouth to James, "I thought we were ahead."

Fans found humor in the way James responded to Smith's blunder -- or how they imagine he would've liked to react to it.

Some fans tried to point out that Smith's teammate Hill could've saved the game by making the free throw in the first place. (And don't even get them started on that controversial reversal of a late charge call.)

But Smith's gaffe was so egregious that most of the Twitter blame fell on him. Some tweets boiled over about Smith's March suspension for throwing a bowl of soup at Cavaliers assistant coach Damon Jones.

Cleveland fans may not see any humor in the situation, but other Twitter users sure did.

There'll be more drama to come Sunday night in Game 2.

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