Durant, Green lead Warriors past Spurs into second round
By JANIE McCAULEY
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) Klay Thompson has rediscovered his shooting touch at the perfect time for the playoffs, Draymond Green is crashing the boards and doing it all on both ends as usual, while Kevin Durant is piling up the points even when not shooting at his most efficient.
Now, this All-Star cast might welcome back two-time MVP Stephen Curry soon from a knee injury as the Warriors charge ahead toward the goal of a repeat championship.
Durant scored 25 points, Green led a smothering Golden State defense, and the Warriors held off the late-charging San Antonio Spurs 99-91 on Tuesday night to win Game 5 and advance to the second round of the Western Conference playoffs.
Thompson had another stellar shooting performance with 24 points, and Green contributed all over with 17 points, a career-playoff high 19 rebounds and seven assists. Golden State looked dominant until the fourth quarter even without Curry - and he could be back soon from a left knee injury.
"Draymond can literally do everything. So these last two games, he's been rebounding like a beast," Thompson said. "And his ability to take the ball from the rim and push the break is what sparks the offense so much."
LaMarcus Aldridge converted a three-point play with 1:31 left that pulled the Spurs within 93-89, and then a pair of free throws at 57.2 to make it a two-point game. Green responded with a long jumper at the top of the key then made two free throws with 9.1 seconds remaining.
The Warriors will face New Orleans in the West semifinals with Game 1 Saturday at Oracle Arena, having smoothly eliminated the Spurs aside from a brief Game 4 blip Sunday at San Antonio. New Orleans, coached by former Golden State top assistant Alvin Gentry, swept Portland in the first round.
Durant didn't have his usual steady shooting night, going 8 for 19 and missing his initial six 3-point tries. That hardly mattered. After a rebound late in the first half, the reigning Finals MVP drove coast-to-coast for a huge two-handed slam that helped Golden State grab momentum.
Aldridge had 30 points and 12 rebounds, and Patty Mills added 18 points with four 3-pointers for cold-shooting San Antonio. Manu Ginobili had 10 points and seven assists in what might have been the 16th-year pro's final game at age 40.
The Spurs fought for and without coach Gregg Popovich, away from the team following the death of his wife, Erin, last week following a long illness.
"I think it speaks highly of the character and spirit of this team, of never giving up, of competing until the very end," Pau Gasol said. "And it was a game and a situation where we easily could have just thrown the towel at different points. But we didn't. So that's something that we can be proud of."
Thompson swished a turnaround fadeaway as the halftime buzzer sounded and scurried for the tunnel hands raised high in triumph as Curry celebrated alongside his Splash Brother. Thompson hit 11 of 22 shots, his fourth time shooting at least 50 percent in the series.
Thompson became the third Warriors player ever to make 600 field goals in the postseason, and Golden State won its 12th straight playoff game at Oracle Arena.
Coach Steve Kerr challenged the Warriors to make "simpler passes" - or "keep hitting singles" as he put it in baseball terms - to avoid silly miscues after a sloppy showing in Sunday's 103-90 loss that forced the series back to the Bay Area.
After Golden State committed 16 turnovers and managed only 19 assists in the defeat, the Warriors were far better taking care of the ball with just 10 turnovers while dishing out 25 assists.
They used a 13-3 burst in the second quarter to take a 35-26 lead.
Green followed up an 18-rebound outing Sunday with another brilliant night on the boards.
"One thing we spoke about coming into this series was trying to control the glass," Green said.
THOUGHTS WITH POP
The Warriors congratulated the Spurs for their efforts under the difficult circumstances as Popovich mourns.
"What they were going through the last week was awful," Thompson said. "I can't imagine how hard it is to go out there and perform under those circumstances."
Spurs assistant Ettore Messina coached San Antonio for a third straight playoff game.
"Pop, if you're watching out there, we love you," Kerr said. "Our whole team and coaching staff has been thinking about you every day. Your team reflected who you are tonight."
Kerr didn't want to guess when Curry might be cleared. The two-time MVP is scheduled to be re-evaluated later this week as he works back from a sprained medial collateral ligament in his left knee that he injured March 23 the same night he returned from a six-game absence with his latest right ankle injury.
"We'll see. We are locked in on tonight. Steph has been coming into the gym every day working and he's doing his thing and we are doing ours," Kerr said. "We are just hoping for the best. Not making any predictions."
Spurs: Danny Green was 0 for 5. ... San Antonio is 2-8 all-time on Golden State's home floor in the postseason. The Spurs were swept in the Western Conference Finals by the Warriors last year. ... The Spurs shot 37.2 percent, going 7 for 30 from 3-point range.
Warriors: Thompson joined Rick Barry (699) and Curry (652) as the Warriors with 600 postseason field goals. ... ... Durant (3,189) passed Paul Pierce (3,180) for 20th and Kevin McHale (3,182) for 19th place on the career NBA postseason scoring list. ... Golden State is 18-2 in postseason Game 5s at home. ... Green notched his 38th postseason game with 10 or more rebounds.
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Updated April 25, 2018