Warriors Wake Up: Golden State Avoids Elimination With Game 5 Win

Friday, May 27th 2016, 12:25 am
By: Brett Coppenbarger

With their historic season on the line and facing elimination, the Warriors responded in the biggest way possible by beating the Thunder 120-111 in front of an energetic Oracle Arena crowd. Oklahoma City now holds a 3-2 lead the Western Conference Finals with Game 6 set for Monday in Oklahoma City.

Related: Thunder Social Scene

While the last three games of the series have been lopsided, the Thunder and Warriors were locked in a grind-it-out game from start to finish with the Warriors pulling away in the fourth quarter.

Kevin Durant led all scorers with 40 points while Russell Westbrook added 31 of his own, but Steph Curry and Klay Thompson’s 58 combined points went a long way as other Warriors’ role players also stepped up to the plate.

After Golden State got driven on throughout much of Games 3 and 4, Warriors’ head coach Steve Kerr made the necessary adjustment of playing center Andrew Bogut heavier minutes, and the plan was a success. Whether he was protecting the rim with his length or tipping in offensive rebounds and keeping possessions alive, Bogut was a huge factor in the game and finished with 15 points and 14 rebounds in 30 minutes of game action.

The Warriors were aggressive early and often throughout the game, and that effort along with the sloppiness of the Thunder put Golden State up by as many as nine points in the first quarter and took a 58-50 lead into intermission.

Just like the previous two games in Oakland, the Thunder was stuck digging itself out of a hole, and thanks to a tremendous opening to the third quarter, the Thunder was able to take a brief 68-67 lead after Westbrook swished a 3-pointer. But a pair of Thompson free throws, and an and-1 layup by Draymond Green gave Golden State the momentum back as they went into the final frame with a four point lead.

The ballgame was still up for grabs, but a slight rotation adjustment by Billy Donovan was costly to start the final frame. After barely playing for much of the game, Donovan opted to start the quarter with Enes Kanter playing alongside Steven Adams, a lineup that worked exceptionally in the Spurs’ series and in moments in Game 1. But tonight with the Warriors smelling blood, Kanter’s questionable defense was exposed as the Warriors opened up on an 11-to-2 run that put Golden State up 91-79 after Shaun Livingston sunk a tightly contested jumper.

OKC didn’t go away without a fight, and clawed back to get within 103-98 with 4:33 left after Durant nailed a clutch 3-pointer, but Curry completed an and-1 on the next possession as the Warriors always had a response.

Durant had a chance to cut the deficit to three points with a 3-pointer with 35 seconds left, but the shot was just off as the Warriors live to see another day.

Golden State was able to match the Thunder’s rebounding total (45-45) in the win, while the Warriors shot 10 more free throws and totaled 15 turnovers compared to 17 from OKC.

Five Warriors’ players scored in double digits, with green adding 11 points and 13 rebounds to go with four blocks. Mo Speights was a huge factor of the bench, making 4-of-7 shots and totaling 14 points.

Ibaka (13) and Anthony Morrow (10) were the only other Thunder players to score in double figures besides Durant and Westbrook, while Dion Waiters (0-4) failed to score after starting the series strong.

Game 6 will be on Saturday at 8 p.m. as the Thunder try to close out the series in front of its home crowd.