The Golden State Warriors suffered a critical blow early in Monday’s Game 5 when Kevin Durant went down with an Achilles injury, but survived without their star to force Game 6.
Durant helped the Warriors off to a hot start in the first quarter while Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson carried the load after his injury to secure a 106-105 victory and close the series gap to 3-2, preventing Toronto from celebrating the NBA championship at home on Monday.
The Raptors rallied in the fourth quarter after Durant was ruled out, but the Warriors mounted their own comeback with big shots down the stretch from Curry and Thompson to keep their championship hopes alive.
Durant suffered Achilles injury
The Warriors will play Game 6 at home on Thursday without their star after Warriors president of basketball operations Bob Myers announced that Durant had suffered an Achilles injury. The extent of the injury won’t be clear until Durant has an MRI on Tuesday.
Warriors fend off Raptors rally
The Raptors looked poised to set up a championship celebration at home after taking their first lead of the game in the fourth quarter. Kawhi Leonard scored 10 straight Raptors points in a run that saw Toronto take a 103-97 lead with 3:28 remaining.
At the height of the run, Raptors head coach Nick Nurse called a timeout after Toronto advanced the ball to the frontcourt on the heels of a missed Curry 3-pointer.
Scotiabank Arena was rocking in anticipation of a title as Toronto had seized control of what looked like a lost game.
Raptors fall flat after timeout
When play resumed with 3:05 remaining, Leonard ended up settling for a turnaround jump shot that missed the rim. The Warriors responded with a Thompson 3-pointer that quieted the crowd and signaled the beginning of the end for Toronto in Game 5.
Curry and Thompson would go on to hit two more unanswered 3-pointers that secured a 106-103 lead for Golden State with 57.6 seconds remaining.
Golden State’s run included missing out on a bucket after a questionable offensive goaltending call on DeMarcus Cousins, who appeared to legally convert a put-back dunk on a missed Curry 3-pointer.
Toronto point guard Kyle Lowry cut the lead to one with a layup with 29.9 seconds remaining. But when his 3-point shot at the buzzer was deflected by Draymond Green and hit the back of the backboard, Toronto’s championship party was put on ice.
Curry led the way for Golden State with 31 points, eight rebounds and seven assists while hitting 5-of-14 3-pointers. Thompson added 26 points with six rebounds and four assists on a vintage 7-of-13 performance from 3-point distance.
Before his injury, Durant looked poised for a big night, hitting all three of his 3-point attempts and displaying athleticism many didn’t expect after a nine-game layoff with a calf strain. He finished with 11 points and two rebounds before being helped off the floor early in the second quarter.
Curry: ‘Do or die’
“Do or die,” Curry told ESPN after the game. “It wasn’t pretty in the second half, but we just made enough plays. ... We’ve just got to find a way.
“We talked about going into this game, we know how to win one game, and then get back to the drawing board. Obviously, prayers up for KD. He gave us what he could, and we hope he makes a speedy recovery.”
Leonard led the Raptors with 26 points, 12 rebounds, six assists, two steals and two blocks. But it wasn’t enough as Toronto put itself behind the 8-ball by allowing Golden State to open a 34-28 first-quarter lead.
His big fourth quarter led Toronto to a brief lead, but wasn’t enough of a cushion to hold down a championship team that had seen deficits in high-stakes series before.
Three-point shooting fuels Golden State win
The Warriors won with a familiar blueprint, hitting 20 of 42 (47.6 percent) of their 3-point attempts.
They got a boost from Cousins, who had his first strong performance of the series since Game 1 while taking over minutes lost to Durant and Kevon Looney, who left the game in the third quarter after aggravating the chest injury he suffered in Game 2.
Cousins finished with 14 points and six rebounds in 20 minutes while hitting 6-of-8 field-goal attempts. He was on the court for Golden State’s game-clinching run down the stretch.
Green finished with 10 points, 10 rebounds and 8 assists and hit 2-of-4 3-point attempts after struggling from distance for much of the season.
Six Raptors players scored in double figures, including Marc Gasol (17 points, eight rebounds) and Lowry (18 points, six assists).
High drama for Game 6
The Finals shifts gears back to Oakland’s Oracle Arena, a venue that saw Toronto win two straight games to set up Monday’s missed opportunity at home.
The Durant injury will loom large on Thursday. Myers was in tears Monday when he announced Durant’s Achilles injury that could have a significant impact on his career as he faces free agency this summer.
But the task at hand is still an NBA title. The Warriors struggled early in the series without Durant. The Raptors will be reeling after a lost chance to secure the championship.
Whichever team responds best to adversity will determine who takes home the Larry O’Brien Trophy.
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