Warriors stay alive, beat Thunder
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Stephen Curry scored 31 points, raising his arms in the early moments to awaken Golden State’s raucous crowd, and the defending champion Warriors staved off elimination with a 120-111 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday night in Game 5 of the Western Conference finals.
The MVP made a snazzy layup late and dished out six assists, while Klay Thompson added 27 points as Golden State sent the best the best-of-seven series back to Oklahoma City for Game 6 on Saturday night. Golden State trails 3-2 and is trying to become just the 10th team to rally from a 3-1 deficit.
“We’re not going home! We’re not going home!” Curry yelled at the top of his lungs in the waning moments.
Kevin Durant scored 40 points and Russell Westbrook added 31 points, eight assists, seven rebounds and five steals for the Thunder, trying for the fifth NBA Finals appearance in franchise history and chasing just the second championship after the 1978-79 Seattle SuperSonics won it all.
The record-setting, 73-win Warriors, coming off their first back-to-back defeats all season, had been blown out in two losses at Oklahoma City by a combined 52 points.
Durant’s 3-pointer with 4:34 left got the Thunder within 103-98, then Curry answered with a three-point play.
Curry scored seven points in a 58-second stretch of the second quarter, but the Thunder didn’t go away easily.
Trailing 58-50 at halftime, Oklahoma City came out of the break with a 9-2 run. Westbrook’s 3-pointer with 6:06 left in the third put Oklahoma City ahead 68-67 for its first lead of the night. But Golden State led 81-77 going into the fourth and began the final period by scoring five unanswered points.
Curry shot 9 for 20 and also had five steals, while Thompson had his 11th 20-point game for the second straight postseason despite shooting 2 for 9 from 3-point range. Draymond Green had 11 points and 13 rebounds.
Steve Kerr thought his Warriors might have an edge against the percentages of teams having trailed 3-1 because they’re the defending champs and were playing at home, where they have been nearly unbeatable.
Kerr called for center Andrew Bogut to do more and the 7-footer delivered with a playoff career-high 15 points and 14 rebounds for his second double-double this postseason and seventh of his career.
Marreese Speights had a pair of three-point plays on follow shots and a 3 in the second quarter to give Golden State a nice lift off the bench. He had nine points in four minutes during that stretch and 14 points overall for his fifth double-digit scoring game this postseason.
With his 1,248th career postseason point in the third, Curry passed Wilt Chamberlain (1,246) for second place on the franchise’s playoff scoring list.
Coach of the Year Kerr sent a message to Warriors fans Wednesday on social media requesting they arrive on time Thursday and bring their best.
The always-raucous supporters obliged.
“It’s a big game. We need our crowd behind us,” Kerr said beforehand. “We know they’ll be here, and the 6 o’clock start makes things difficult for a lot of people to get here on time. So the first couple games we had a pretty late-arriving crowd. So it’s kind of a reminder to be here early, if possible.”
Thunder: The franchise lost in the finals in 1977-78, 1995-96 to Kerr and the Chicago Bulls and in ‘12. … Steven Adams sat down with his second foul at the 9:34 mark of the first quarter. The Thunder had seven fouls to Golden State’s one after the first. … Oklahoma City took Game 1 at Oracle Arena, where the Warriors have lost only three times all season. … The Thunder started the game 3 for 14.
Warriors: Green picked up his fifth technical of the postseason. He also has at least one steal in 16 straight playoff games. … Golden State missed six of its first seven 3s. … The Warriors supported Turner Sports sideline reporter Craig Sager with “Sager Strong” T-shirts for sale to support awareness and research for leukemia and lymphoma, both blood cancers. … Curry became the fifth player in franchise history with 200 postseason free throws.