The Washington Post
Wild win, painful loss
Golden State survives despite Durant’s injury
toronto — Canada came for a coronation and left, inexplicably, with a headache. Kevin Durant’s night ended early — and just as painfully.
The Golden State Warriors staved off elimination by beating the Toronto Raptors, 106-105, on Monday, withstanding the loss of Durant and a brilliant fourth-quarter push from Kawhi Leonard to claim Game 5 and cut the Raptors’ NBA Finals lead to 3-2.
The defending champs left the court in joyous disbelief after pulling off a late-game caper for the ages. Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson combined to make 12 three-pointers, including three in the final three minutes. But a night that ended with stunned silence at Scotiabank Arena ran the full gamut of emotions.
“An incredible win and a horrible loss at the same time,” Warriors Coach Steve Kerr said.
For a quarter, Durant provided the emotional and talent boosts that the Warriors have so badly needed in this series. The all-star forward, playing for the first time in a month after suffering a right calf strain, swished his first two three-pointers, blocked Pascal Siakam in transition and helped stake Golden State to an 8-2 lead. Looking loose and emboldened, the Warriors drilled their first five three-pointers, and Curry enjoyed Durant’s space-creating impact by
to the basket for a pair of early layups.
But Durant’s potentially series-altering comeback quickly dissolved into a valiant but tragic cameo. Early in the second quarter, he struggled to burst past Siakam near midcourt. A minute later, he tried again to accelerate off the dribble past Serge Ibaka — only to come up lame and fall to the court holding his lower right leg.
There was no question it was a serious setback as he walked gingerly to the locker room with Curry and Andre Iguodala providing emotional support. After brief cheers in the moments following his injury, the crowd chanted “KD!” as he departed for good with 11 points and two rebounds in 12 minutes. The two-time Finals MVP left the arena on crutches while wearing a boot before the fourth quarter.
Warriors General Manager Bob Myers, choking back tears, said during a postgame news conference that Durant had suffered an Achilles’ injury.
“He was cleared to play tonight,” Myers said. “That was a collaborative decision. I don’t believe there’s anybody to blame. I understand this world; if you have to, you can blame me. I run our basketball operations department.
“Kevin Durant loves to play basketball, and the people who questioned whether he wanted to get back to this team are wrong. He’s one of the most misunderstood people. He’s a good teammate and good person. It’s not fair.”
“I really felt for him,” Raptors Coach Nick Nurse said. “I love KD. I love watching him play. When anybody goes down, you’re saddened by it. When one of the great players goes down, it’s almost shocking.”
The Warriors built a 13-point lead in the aftermath of Durant’s departure, but the Raptors whitslicing tled it to six by halftime and finally took the lead during a frantic fourth-quarter push led by Leonard. While Toronto missed 16 of its first 19 threepoint attempts, Leonard hit four straight jumpers — including a pair of three-pointers — to seemingly set up the first title in the Raptors’ 24-year history.
Toronto has excelled at outlasting opponents all postseason long, but Golden State responded with perimeter heroics of its own: Thompson hit a threepointer, Curry hit another, and then Thompson hit a third to shock the home crowd and give the champs a 106-103 lead with less than a minute remaining.
Even then, they weren’t home free. A Kyle Lowry layup and a Golden State over-and-back violation gave Toronto a chance to win at the buzzer. The Raptors could muster only a Lowry threepointer from the corner, which missed badly.
“Draymond [Green] got a piece of it,” Lowry said. “I’m not going to miss it behind [the hoop]. It felt great out of my hands. He got a piece of it. That’s what great defenders do.”
Curry finished with a gamehigh 31 points and sprinted off the court in joyous disbelief. Thompson added 26, including seven three-pointers. Leonard, who had a team-high 26 points, went scoreless in the final three minutes and missed multiple potential daggers.
By winning, Golden State forced Game 6 at Oracle Arena on Thursday. With Durant probably lost for the series, the Warriors still need to conjure two more miracles to secure another title. After their latest and greatest escape, suddenly anything seems possible.
“I’m hurting deep in the soul right now, I can’t lie,” Durant wrote on Instagram shortly after the game. “But seeing my brothers get this win was like taking a shot of tequila. I got new life.”