The Golden State Warriors fended off a massive Houston Rockets rally to win Game 5 on Wednesday, but immediately turn their attention to Kevin Durant, who left in the third quarter with a right calf strain and didn’t return.
Durant suffered the injury while landing awkwardly on a made jump shot late in the quarter. He clutched his lower leg and immediately went to the locker room.
The Warriors assuaged concerns that Durant may have suffered an Achilles tendon tear by announcing he had suffered a calf strain during the fourth quarter. He will have an MRI on Thursday. His status to travel for Game 6 is not clear.
Steve Kerr: ‘It’s not the Achilles’
Steve Kerr told reporters that he was assured that Durant had not suffered an Achilles injury. Durant was seen limping in the postgame locker room and told reporters “we’ll know more tomorrow” when asked about his injury.
Warriors hold on after blowing 20-point lead
Golden State rallied after the injury behind a big fourth quarter from Stephen Curry, who heated up after struggling from the field for most of the game.
With the 104-99 win, the Warriors head to Houston for Friday’s Game 6 with a 3-2 lead and a chance to close out the series.
“We obviously know each other well, have had a lot of battles,” Curry told TNT after the game. “No matter how the game looks, it’s a game of runs. We had to dig deep tonight, obviously.
“I don’t know what’s going on with my brother. But the way that the team responded down the stretch was what we’re capable of. We’ll carry that momentum into Friday.”
Klay Thompson finally finds his stroke
The Warriors came out of the gate on fire behind a big first quarter from Klay Thompson, who has been the subject of much criticism for his poor play so far in the series.
He missed his first shot, but hit his next five in a quarter where he tallied 12 points. Golden State led 31-17 going into the second quarter.
Game of runs
The Rockets punched back late in the second with a 10-0 run that started with a James Harden 3-pointer and ended with a layup from the Rockets’ MVP candidate. A 40-27 Golden State lead was cut to 40-37, and what looked like the makings of a blowout was all of the sudden a tight game again.
But if Houston’s run was a jab to the body, Golden State’s response was a right hook to the jaw. The Warriors immediately countered the Rockets’ 10-point run with a 17-0 run of their own.
Durant scored 10 points in the run that saw the Warriors extend their lead to 57-37 as the half wound down to the final three minutes. It appeared that Golden State had taken the first commanding lead of the back-and-forth series.
Houston punches back
But as has been the case so many times in this series, the lead was far from safe. Houston — stunned, but not defeated — scored the last six points of the half to set the tone for a dominant third quarter.
The Rockets scored five quick points to open the period and continued to close the gap as Curry — who didn’t score his first bucket until 4:22 remained in the second quarter — continued to struggle from the field.
They cut the Warriors lead to 66-65 on an Iman Shumpert 3-pointer to ensure that Game 5 would be another dogfight.
Durant suffers frightening injury
Then the Durant injury happened. He put Golden State up 68-65 with a mid-range jumper.
But after he landed, something was clearly wrong. By the time he left for the locker room, the excitement of the game shifted to concern for the Warriors’ superstar.
Curry leads Warriors after Durant goes down
But Game 5 still mattered, and the Warriors put up a fight behind their veteran stars the rest of the way as Curry, Thompson and Draymond Green ensured that they would have a chance to win the series Friday night in Houston.
After starting 4-for-14 from the field prior to Durant’s injury, Curry hit 5 of his last 9 shots to finish with 25 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists. Like most of the series, it wasn’t vintage Steph. He hit 3-of-11 3-pointers and shot 39 percent from the field. But without his late effort, the Warriors likely would not have won.
Thompson finished with the good shooting game he so desperately needed, scoring 27 points while shooting 5-of-10 from behind the arc and 11-of-20 from the field.
Splash Brothers splash
Game 5 was the first time during the playoffs that Curry and Thompson had each scored 25 points and marked their highest combined point total of the postseason.
Green didn’t score much. But his eight points were enough when tallied with his 12 rebounds and 11 assists. And his 3-pointer with 3:39 remaining more than made up for the technical foul he had just picked up on the other end for kneeing Chris Paul in the head after the two had collided on an offensive foul by Paul.
That play could end up resulting in long-term repercussions with the NBA’s rule calling for a suspension in the playoffs after a player accrues seven technicals. Wednesday’s was Green’s fourth.
Not much help for Harden
The Rockets were once again led by Harden, who tallied 31 points on 10-of-16 shooting to go with 8 assists, 4 rebounds and 4 steals. P.J. Tucker tallied 13 points and 10 rebounds.
But the rest of the Rockets starters struggled from the field as Houston connected on 41.8 percent of its field goals as a team.
The rebounding edge they found in a pair of home wins disappeared as Golden State won the battle on the boards, 42-39.
Houston’s 3-point shooting went relatively cold as well as the Rockets connected on 12-of-41 (29.3 percent) of its attempts from behind the arc. Paul missed all six of his 3-point attempts while tallying 11 points, 6 assists and 6 rebounds.
Game 6 without Durant?
As the series shifts back to Houston, it seems unlikely the Warriors will have the services of their best player. While the initial catastrophic scare of an Achilles injury appears to have passed, a calf strain is not the kind of injury that’s generally healed enough on one day of rest.
If he is ruled out Thursday, Golden State will have to regroup for a close-out game without their two-time Finals MVP.
This Warriors core has won a championship without Durant. We may find out Friday what that group looks like after two-plus years of Durant being its best player.
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