OAKLAND — The Golden State Warriors extended their season at least one more game by beating the Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday in an elimination game at Oracle Arena.
It wasn’t easy, and it certainly wasn’t comfortable.
“We had great energy and played with great desperation,” head coach Steve Kerr said after his team’s 120-111 victory. “… That’s really who we are. We’re a defensive team that plays off of our defense and tries to run.”
The Dubs’ defensive anchor, Andrew Bogut, returned to form on Thursday. He had been limited to fewer than 20 minutes in each of the first four games due to foul trouble. On this night, Bogut scored 15 points, pulled down 14 boards and contributed a pair of steals and blocks over 30 minutes.
“Big fella was amazing tonight on both ends of the floor,” Draymond Green said of the Australian center. “… If we’re going to come back and win this series, like we plan on doing, we need him to continue playing that way, which I have no doubt in my mind that he will.”
Reserve center Marreese Speights, who insisted on Twitter after Game 4 the Warriors were not done, maximized his eight-and-a-half minutes by scoring 14 points. The bench unit played well enough to allow the starters to rest at the beginning of the fourth quarter, a critical stretch for Golden State as it extended its lead to 12 points with 10 minutes remaining.
MVP Stephen Curry didn’t dispel concerns about his health as he continued to struggle to get free despite the Thunder switching big men onto him on perimeter pick-and-rolls. But he put forth a winning performance, scoring a team-high 31 points (9-for-20 shooting), grabbing seven rebounds and doling out six assists.
“I thought he looked like 91 percent,” Kerr joked after the game, referencing a report after Game 4 that said Curry was playing at about 70 percent. “… He came out and he played a really good game. That’s all I can tell you. I mean, he’s going to compete every night, and I thought he had an excellent night and helped us get it done.”
OKC’s offensive movement stagnated late as superstars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook reverted back to what ailed them earlier this season: too many isolation sets. Fortunately for the Thunder, they have two of the best hero ballers in the league. Durant finished with 40 points, and Westbrook managed 31 points on 28 shots.
“When they’re going in, you won’t say anything,” Durant said. “We happened to miss some tonight.”
Their scoring prowess kept the game tight late, which is a scary realization for the W’s — if the Thunder can keep the score close despite shooting 43 percent, the Champs’ defensive intensity will have to be even higher in upcoming contests if their quest to repeat is to continue.
“We got some momentum now,” Kerr said, “and we’ve got to take it to Oklahoma City.”
Their season depends on it.Andrew BogutBilly DonovanDraymond GreenGolden State Warriorsjacob c. palmerKevin DurantKlay ThompsonMarreese SpeightsNBANBA PlayoffsOklahoma City ThunderRussell WestbrookStephen CurrySteve Kerrsteven adams