WAR­RIORS’ DU­RANT DI­AG­NOSED WITH MILD CALF SPRAIN,

The Tribune (SLO) - - Insight - BY JANIE MCCAULEY

OAKLAND

Kevin Du­rant will miss the re­main­der of the Golden State War­riors’ West­ern Con­fer­ence semi­fi­nals against the Hous­ton Rockets with a strained right calf.

An MRI exam Thurs­day con­firmed the War­riors’ ini­tial di­ag­no­sis an­nounced dur­ing Wed­nes­day’s 104-99 win at Or­a­cle Arena.

The team has re­turned to Hous­ton for Game 6 on Fri­day, but Du­rant stayed be­hind in the Bay Area to un­dergo treat­ment. He is sched­uled to be re-eval­u­ated next week, mean­ing if there is a de­ci­sive Game 7 in the se­ries Sun­day, he would be out of that one as well. The War­riors lead the se­ries 3-2.

“It’s a tough in­jury,” team­mate Klay Thomp­son said. “We’ll have to col­lec­tively make up for what he does. We’ve done it be­fore. It’s go­ing to be in­cred­i­bly dif­fi­cult. It’s the play­offs. I know they’re not go­ing to feel sorry for us, the me­dia, the fans. It will be a gut check time. We go down there and give it our best ef­fort. That’s all we can do. If we do that, I have con­fi­dence ev­ery man on this team will step up in his ab­sence. We wish him a speedy re­cov­ery be­cause we’re not the same team with­out him.”

Du­rant limped to the locker room after land­ing awk­wardly on his right foot fol­low­ing a base­line jumper with 2:11 left in the third quar­ter Wed­nes­day.

The War­riors ini­tially feared the two-time reign­ing NBA Fi­nals MVP might have in­jured his Achilles, a far more se­ri­ous is­sue.

Du­rant, who leads all post­sea­son scor­ers at 34.2 points per game, fin­ished with 22 points, five re­bounds and four as­sists.

Golden State has been with­out in­jured stars like Du­rant, Stephen Curry, Dray­mond Green or Klay Thomp­son in big games be­fore. The War­riors coach­ing staff planned to use the flight to re­con­fig­ure ro­ta­tions for Game 6 with­out Du­rant.

“Any time you see some­thing like that, it’s scary,” Curry said after the game. “You could see the look on his face. He didn’t re­ally un­der­stand what was hap­pen­ing in that mo­ment, try­ing to fig­ure it out, went straight back to the locker room. Dur­ing the time­out, we all looked at each other. There were a cou­ple smiles in terms of what that meant for us as a team, the guys that were go­ing to need to step up in those mo­ments. Again, next-man-up men­tal­ity. Dray­mond said that at some point dur­ing that time­out.

“It’s hard to re­move your­self from think­ing about your team­mate and your brother as he’s back in the locker room get­ting checked out. But we were able to lock back in and just find a way to win the game. Now we can re­group and un­der­stand what­ever the sit­u­a­tion is go­ing for­ward.”

Kevon Looney will cer­tainly play more min­utes as he did Wed­nes­day. The big man grabbed nine re­bounds, five on the of­fen­sive glass, to pro­vide a big boost off the bench.

“We’re still re­ally pos­i­tive,” Looney said.

“Our team’s been bat­tle-tested, we’ve had to play with­out key guys be­fore so what­ever hap­pens, hap­pens. We’re ready and we’re con­fi­dent that we have enough to win.”

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