Oakland — After Klay Thompson sank the 21-foot buzzer beater to cap the first half, he went running along the sideline, arms aloft, beckoning to the crowd in a celebration more befitting of his Splash Brother, Stephen Curry.
Thompson would have ran right down the tunnel — and past Curry, who was jumping up and down — if not for a Golden State Warriors official blocking his way.
First, it was time for the halftime interview.
The second-half to-do list for the Warriors, who, like Thompson, looked to be sprinting into the Western Conference Semifinals, was supposed to be simple: no one get hurt, no more flagrant points for Draymond Green and keep feeding Thompson.
Instead, the Warriors nearly fumbled a 16-point advantage and nearly cost themselves another flight back to San Antonio. Thanks to a 14-4 run, the Spurs got to within two — 93-91 with 42 seconds to go — but the hosts never let them pull level.
Following the 99-91 escape, which sets up a Saturday meeting with the New Orleans Pelicans at Oracle Arena, head coach Steve Kerr opened his news conference with praise for the opponents and his absent friend, Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich.
“They put up a hell of a fight tonight,” Kerr said. “They are obviously a championship organization. They’ve been doing this for a long time. They’re a reflection of their coach.”
“So, we’re still, obviously, thinking about Pop,” Kerr added, on the verge of tears. “Pop, if you’re watching out there, we love you. Our whole team and coaching staff has been thinking about you everyday and your team reflected who you are tonight.”
A couple of days after a 4-for-16 dud in Game 4, Thompson knocked 8 of his 12 field goals in the first half.
“Klay was just amazing tonight,” Kerr said. “And he was great all series. I know he had a tough shooting night in Game 4 but just an incredible series — his movement off the ball, his energy defensively, what he does for us all year is what he did for us in this series.”
Then like the rest of the Warriors, Thompson stumbled late, connecting on just 3 of 11 second-half attempts. Draymond Green, who totaled 17 points, 19 rebounds and seven assists helped ensure the Warriors avoided a late collapse.
Whether the Warriors will have Curry back in the fold when they greet the Pelicans remains unclear. Kerr refused to rule the two-time MVP in or out for the weekend.
“It’s just day-to-day. We’re just taking it day-by-day,” Kerr said. “So, we’ll see.”
Curry (left MCL sprain) is due for another re-evaluation on Friday.
“Steph’s been coming into the gym everyday and working,” Kerr said. “He’s doing his thing and we’re doing ours and we’re just hoping for the best, but not making any predictions.”
The players will be off Wednesday. The staff will huddle in the “war room,” as Kerr put it, to begin preparing for a Pelicans team that swept past the Portland Trail Blazers. The Pelicans are coached by Alvin Gentry, a former Kerr deputy.
“Well fortunately Alvin Gentry doesn’t really know what he’s doing,” Kerr cracked. “That’s a joke. That’s a joke. [I’m] really happy for Alvin. It was fun watching them play. It’s not going to be as much playing against them because they present a lot of problems.”