IN SPORTS: WARRIORS TAKE SERIES TO GAME 6
Durant returns, then re-injures leg
TORONTO — Just like he did almost seamlessly in his first two years with the Warriors, Kevin Durant stepped on the court, exerted his dominance and left the organization feeling good about their NBA title chances.
Just like everything surrounding his third and possibly final season with the Warriors, Durant’s stellar play became overshadowed with another injury, more talk about his future and the potential end of the Warriors’ dynasty.
The Warriors finished with a 106-105 victory over the Toronto Raptors in Game 5 of the NBA Finals on Monday, cutting the series deficit to 3-2 and ensuring at least Game 6 in what will mark the final game at Oracle Arena on Thursday. Meanwhile, Durant appears to have played his final game this season and with the Warriors.
In his first game since missing the previous 14 with a strained right calf, Durant left with 9:46 left in the second quarter after falling to the ground and favoring his right foot and ankle. Steph Curry, Andre Iguodala and Warriors medical director Dr. Rick Celebrini helped Durant off the court as he struggled to put pressure on his foot.
The Warriors later announced in the third quarter that Durant would not return for Game 5 because of a right lower leg injury. The Warriors added Durant plans to receive an MRI on Tuesday, though the exact time has not yet been determined. Durant was seen leaving the arena midway through the third quarter on crutches and a walking boot.
Yet, the Warriors figured out how to win without Durant in a potential elimination game. After DeMarcus
Cousins committed an offensive foul with a 106-105 lead with 15.7 seconds left, the Warriors swarmed Raptors guard Kyle Lowry on a missed 3. Before that moment, Klay Thompson buried a 3 to give the Warriors a 106-103 lead with 56.6 seconds left. Stephen Curry tied the game at 103 with his own 3 with 1:22 remaining. Before then, Thompson contested a Kawhi Leonard jumper before draining a 3 to reduce the Raptors’ lead to 103-100 with 2:32 left.
Still, the series is not over and the Warriors have notable injuries. Warriors reserve Kevon Looney sat out for most of the second half after aggravating
a fracture near his chest and ribcage, an injury that sidelined him in Game 3 before returning unexpectedly in Game 4. Most of the attention centers on Durant’s injury, though.
As Durant handled the ball against Toronto forward Serge Ibaka, Durant crossed over left, planted his right foot and pulled up in pain before falling to the ground. Durant tugged at his foot, ankle and calf before being helped up.
The Raptors fans first cheered the injury. Warriors players then gestured toward the crowd angrily before Raptors players shared the same outrage. The Toronto crowd then gave Durant a round of applause to show support as he left the court. And to think, it appeared Durant was back
to his former self after finishing with 11 points on 3-of-5 shooting and two rebounds in 12 minutes.
The Warriors recently felt more pressure for Durant to return, while facing a 3-1 series deficit against Toronto. Yet, the Warriors maintained they would not clear Durant to play until the training staff felt comfortable doing so. He had just practiced on Sunday, which marked his first practice since initially injuring his right calf against Houston in Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinals on May 8. Yet, Warriors coach Steve Kerr said beforehand that Durant’s return had anything to do with the series circumstances.
“He can play now,” Kerr said beforehand. “He’s been cleared, so he’s going to play.”
Durant’s debut quickly ended in a finale. That left the Warriors with a familiar task ever since Durant initially strained his right calf just over a month ago. How can they win without a player that led the league in postseason scoring (34.2)? After failing to do that three out of four times against Toronto, the Warriors prevailed in Game 5 with their All-Stars all exerting their play.
Curry finished with 31 points while shooting 10-of-23 from the field and 5-of-14 from 3. Thompson added 26 points while shooting 9-of-21 overall and 7-of-13 from deep. Draymond Green nearly logged his sixth postseason triple double with 10 points, 10 rebounds, and eight assists.
Kawhi Leonard, left, of the Raptors is defended by Draymond Green of the Warriors in the second half during Game Five of the NBA Finals on Monday in Toronto.