Spurs push Warriors to brink

Marc J Spears
Yahoo! SportsMay 15, 2013

SAN ANTONIO – Golden State Warriors coach Mark Jackson walked out of the team's locker room late Tuesday with a noticeable limp that all too many of his players are now carrying. For much of these playoffs, Jackson's inspirational sermons have lifted the Warriors before, after and during games, making their timeout huddles must-see TV. Yet after the San Antonio Spurs won 109-91 to take Game 5 of the teams' Western Conference semifinals series, even Jackson must now admit the obvious:

Talk is cheap.

Now down 3-2 in the series, the Warriors know they need more than words to prolong their season.

"It's not asking much to win two games," Jackson said. "If we played like the way we played tonight, we might as well begin to make [offseason] preparations. And I don't believe that's my team. So there is a lot of life left in my team, and we've talked about it being a long series. So this is where it gets fun."

The Warriors didn't have much fun in Game 5. Star guard Stephen Curry still looked limited from spraining his left ankle in Game 3, missing five of his first six shots. Center Andrew Bogut also hobbled on a sore ankle.

"Everybody is hurting this time of year," Jackson said. "My guys will bounce back."

Harrison Barnes and Jarrett Jack combined for 45 points, but Curry (nine) and Klay Thompson (four), stars of the series' first two games, totaled 13. Tony Parker, meanwhile, paced the Spurs with 25 points and 10 assists.

"It was a long night for us," Jackson said.

The Spurs will have two opportunities to close out the series, if needed: Game 6 in Thursday in Oakland, Calif.; and a possible Game 7 on Sunday back at home. Given that the Spurs split the series' first two games – and needed a late Manu Ginobili 3-pointer in double overtime of the opener to do that – they don't want to look too far ahead.

"This is a class team," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said of the Warriors. "They bust their ass on both ends of the floor. It's not about getting to the end. It's about going and playing, and that's about it."

The Warriors could benefit from some rest. The teams have played every other day since the start of the series. Curry scored 44 points in Game 1, but has labored some after spraining his ankle in Game 3. In Game 5, he missed 10 of 14 shots, including six of his seven 3-pointers, and had four turnovers.

"I was terrible, plain and simple," Curry said. "They outplayed us as a team. Individually, I didn't have anything on either end. I was a step slow. My shot wasn't falling."

Bogut also has shown wear as the series has progressed. He finished Game 5 with two points and six rebounds in 19 minutes. The Warriors were so desperate for a spark with Curry and Bogut struggling that seldom-used reserves Richard Jefferson and Andris Biedrins played. All-Star forward David Lee has been productive when on the court, but his injured hip has limited him to short stints.

Bogut and Lee said they are willing to play as much as needed to try to force a decisive Game 7.

"It's a tall order to beat the Spurs two straight games, but we are going back to Oakland," Bogut said. "A lot can happen."

The Warriors have overcome long odds much of the season. Knocking off the No. 3-seeded Denver Nuggets in the first round and then winning Game 2 against the Spurs – Golden State's first victory in San Antonio since 1997 – gave the Warriors confidence they can advance to the West finals. They're bruised now, but still willing to continue the fight.

"We are not a top four team talent-wise in the West," Lee said. "But we made it this far and we still have an opportunity to go further."

More Warriors-Spurs content on Yahoo! Sports:
Steph Curry plays through pain in Warriors win
Warriors' Stephen Curry hobbled in Game 3 loss to Spurs
Klay Thompson follows Stephen Curry's climb to stardom
Spurs steal magical night from Stephen Curry