If Golden State Warriors are to go on to win the title, they might have to do it without Kevin Durant. (Reuters/USA TODAY Sports: Kyle Terada)
The Toronto Raptors were within a shot of their first NBA Championship, but went down to the Golden State Warriors 106-105 at home to force Game Six in the series in Oakland.
- Golden State Warriors are trying to keep their NBA dynasty alive, and have just kept the Finals series going against Toronto Raptors in Game Five
- The Warriors’ 106-105 win comes at a cost, with superstar Kevin Durant picking up a leg injury in the second quarter
- Steph Curry led the way with 31 points for Golden State, but Toronto can still clinch the title with a win on the road on Saturday
Golden State, going for a fourth title in five years, needed to win on the road to stay alive in the NBA Finals after the Raptors took a 3-1 lead with a victory in Oakland in Game Four.
But their challenge became a lot more difficult, with Kevin Durant’s NBA Finals campaign lasting just 12 minutes due to a leg injury.
NBA tweet: GAME 5 FINAL SCORE Steph Curry (31 pts) and Klay Thompson (26) hit big shots down the stretch as the @warriors prevail to force a Game 6! #NBAFinals #StrengthInNumbers 106 #WeTheNorth 105
Early on, the Warriors were perfect from outside the arc, burying their first five three-pointers of the game before Klay Thompson finally missed one.
The visitors led 34-28 after the opening quarter, but the pivotal moment came early in the second term, as Durant lost a ball to the Raptors’ Serge Ibaka, before pulling up short and limping to the side of the court, clutching at his lower leg.
Durant, who had missed the first four games of the series with a calf injury he picked up in the second round of the playoffs against Houston, had looked strong in Game 5, scoring 11 points in just under 12 minutes on court.
But he was assisted back to the locker room — flanked by teammate Andre Iguodala — and he did not return to the game.
Raptors fans celebrated the advantage for their team by cheering Durant’s exit, prompting the home team to signal the crowd to be quiet.
In Durant’s absence, Golden State pulled ahead thanks to his replacement, DeMarcus Cousins. The big centre came on and scored nine points in five minutes plus some key blocks and rebounds as the visitors went 11 in front.
However the Warriors were getting in early foul trouble, and when Draymond Green picked up his third foul late in the second quarter, his angry response drew a technical foul from officials and a roar from the Toronto crowd.
The Raptors were getting on top, and they got within a point in the final minute of the quarter, but a three from Curry and another basket kept the Warriors ahead 62-56 at the half.
Kevin Durant’s NBA Finals campaign lasted just 12 minutes before a leg injury ended his involvement. (AP/The Canadian Press: Chris Young)
The Warriors started fast in the third quarter, with more three-pointers from Curry and Iguodala as they burst out to a big lead.
The margin got out to 14 points, but then the Raptors went on a 10-0 run, including two three-pointers from Fred VanVleet.
Centre Marc Gasol and guard Kyle Lowry both earned their fourth fouls in the third quarter, leaving the Raptors in some trouble going into the final term.
The Warriors led 84-78 after three quarters, but the injuries continued to mount as Kevon Looney was ruled out of the game with a recurrence of a chest injury.
Toronto star forward Kawhi Leonard was a little quiet in the shooting department early on, but he finally came to life in the final quarter, coming up with a couple of big plays as Toronto came within a point.
Golden State linchpin Stephen Curry tries to beat the defence of Toronto’s Kawhi Leonard. (AP: Frank Gunn)
The Warriors responded with a three-pointer, but the home side had momentum.
A Norman Powell slam brought the crowd to its feet, and then when Leonard buried a three-pointer with just over five minutes left, the Raptors finally had the lead.
Leonard had a slow start, but he left his best until last, getting a second three on his way to 10 straight points for Toronto to put the Raptors six points up.
The Warriors would not give in, and after a shot-clock violation from the Raptors, Golden State went down-court and Curry hit a three to tie the scores at 103-103.
Then they got the ball back and Thompson scored another from beyond the line to put the Warriors ahead by three with just under a minute on the clock.
A goaltending from the Warriors left them just a point ahead with 30 seconds left, and then Cousins was called for an offensive foul with 15 seconds remaining.
Toronto had the chance to win it, but Lowry’s shot from the corner missed as time ran out.
Leonard led the way for Toronto with 26 points, while Lowry had 18, Gasol had 17 and former Warrior Serge Ibaka had 15.
Curry ended up with a game-high 31 points, with Thompson having 26.
The emotions had been on display from the moment the two teams walked in court, with Toronto fans dreaming of a first-ever title.
The fans took over the singing of the Canadian national anthem, setting a tone for the evening that ended in a tough result for the Raptors.
The Raptors will now travel to Oakland to face the Warriors in Game Six on Saturday (AEST), with a decider — if needed — back in Toronto on Monday.
Golden State Warriors tweet: Let’s bring this back to The Bay. Raptors lead the series 3-2.