Warriors retake series lead but lose Kevin Durant to injury
Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant grabs his leg during the game against the Houston Rockets in Oakland on Wednesday, May 8, 2019. Durant did not return to the game. (Christopher Chung / The Press Democrat)
OAKLAND — Klay Thompson scored 27 points, including a key layup with 4.1 seconds left, and the Warriors overcame Kevin Durant’s calf injury to beat the Houston Rockets 104-99 on Wednesday night for a 3-2 lead in the Western Conference semifinals.
Durant strained his right calf late in the third quarter. The two-time reigning NBA Finals MVP limped to the locker room after landing awkwardly following a baseline jumper. He finished with 22 points, five rebounds and four assists.
James Harden scored 31 points for the Rockets, who will try to stave off elimination back home in Houston on Friday night.
Durant’s status for Game 6 is unclear. After he departed with the injury, the rest of Golden State’s array of stars helped the Warriors close it out.
Draymond Green received his fourth technical of the postseason with 3:39 left, and then knocked down a 3-pointer on the other end. Thompson followed Green’s 3 with one of his own to make it 97-89 with 2:33 remaining.
Stephen Curry struggled with his shot yet again and finished with 25 points on 9-for-23 shooting. He went 3 of 11 from long range.
Curry hit a 3 with 5:09 to play that made it 89-85. He didn’t even score his first points of the night until a 3 4:22 before halftime.
Golden State nearly gave it away with an awful third quarter, when the Warriors managed just 15 points and committed six turnovers. The game was tied at 72 going into the final 12 minutes.
Harden’s 3 with 3:07 left in the third trimmed Golden State’s lead to 66-62, and then Iman Shumpert made it a one-point game with a 3.
Eric Gordon’s layup with 40.6 seconds remaining gave the Rockets their first lead since the early minutes.
Green had eight points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists in another spectacular effort on both ends. He supplied the energy for Golden State after two losses at Houston evened the series.
The Warriors led by as many as 20 but missed open looks and even layups, clanking shots off the front rim and allowing the tough-minded Rockets to stay close.
Then, they heeded Steve Kerr’s simple message: “Poise and awareness and poise and patience applies to all of life and not just offense,” the coach said beforehand.
The Warriors pulled it off without Durant, whose 35.4 playoff scoring average was best in the NBA coming into the game.
Harden shot 10 for 16 and dished out eight assists. The reigning MVP injured his eyes during the first quarter of Game 2 last Tuesday on a hit by Green as they fought for a rebound. Harden’s left eye was still red leading into Game 5.
The Warriors’ win guarantees their loyal fans in the East Bay at least one more home game at Oracle Arena before the team moves to the new Chase Center in San Francisco for next season.
Golden State has won each of the three previous layoff meetings against the Rockets during the last five years: the 2015 Western Conference finals, the first round the following year, and last season’s West finals by rallying from a 3-2 deficit.
Crashing the boards
The Warriors led the rebounding battle 27-18 after the first half, grabbing eight on the offensive glass, and finished with a 42-39 advantage.
Houston’s PJ Tucker, who had 22 rebounds the previous two games, grabbed 10 more to go with 13 points.
The Rockets outrebounded the Warriors 55-35 in their Game 3 win, and then 50-43 on Monday in Game 4 — getting 20 from Clint Capela in the two victories. Capela had 14 on Wednesday.
Golden State held an edge on the boards in both Games 1 and 2.
Warriors: Green’s eight assists in the first were one off team record for a playoff quarter. Tim Hardaway once had nine in 1991. … Reserve G Shaun Livingston played after he had been questionable with a sore left hip. The Warriors flew home from Houston later Tuesday so players could receive treatment and have some recovery time, and then it was back on the airplane Thursday. … Injured C DeMarcus Cousins, who could return at some point this postseason from a torn left quadriceps muscle, did some rehab agility work on the court including skipping and running as well as shooting during morning shootaround.