Warriors rally falls short as No. 8 Clippers stay alive
MANILA, Philippines – Many predicted a first-round cruise for the Golden State Warriors, but the Los Angeles Clippers continued to play spoiler.
Even Kevin Durant’s playoff career-high 45 points wasn’t enough as the overachieving Clippers stunned the defending champion Warriors anew, 129-121, to trim their NBA Western Conference series matchup to 3-2.
Lou Williams fired 33 points and dished out 10 assists as the Clippers virtually controlled Game 5 all the way on Wednesday night, April 24 (Thursday, April 25, Manila time).
Many turned up for the Clippers with Danilo Gallinari posting 26 points and 7 rebounds and Montrezl Harrell pumping in 24 points on an 11-of-14 shooting clip.
Patrick Beverley also help set the tone in the Clippers’ strong start to finish with a double-double of 17 points and 14 boards.
“I thought tonight was more like us, we kept attacking,“ said Clippers coach Doc Rivers. “I thought every guy came in and did their role.”
The Warriors trailed by as many as 15 points, 66-81, then rallied to tie the game at 116 and even briefly grabbed the lead, 118-117, in the final two minutes.
Williams, though, responded with 8 straight points and Gallinari capped the 10-0 run to put the Clippers back up at 127-118.
Durant also had 6 rebounds and 6 assists, while Steph Curry (24 points) and Klay Thompson (22 points) also finished in double figures.
“We were not aggressive," said Warriors coach Steve Kerr. “Everything we did in [Game 4] we did not do tonight. Offensively we’re fine, it’s just the defense. We did not defend.”
The Warriors had earlier threatened to cut loose in a high-scoring first quarter, piling on 41 points.
But the Clippers were able to exploit an uneven Warriors defensive display to remain within striking distance, restricting the reigning NBA champions to a four-point lead heading into the 2nd quarter.
The visitors outscored the Warriors 34-22 to take a 71-63 halftime lead and from that point, the Warriors were chasing the game.
The Clippers opened up a 15-point lead early in the 3rd quarter and they kept the Warriors at arms length until Durant inspired a late run in the 4th.
A spectacular driving dunk by Durant put Golden State up, 118-117, ahead with 2:40 remaining in the fourth as the momentum seemed to have shifted to the Warriors.
But Williams drained a three-pointer and forced a foul for a four-point play and the Clippers were suddenly back in front at 121-118.
Two more jumpers from Williams stretched the lead to 125-118 with just over a minute left before Gallinari's running layup put the Clippers nine points clear.
Game 6 of the best-of-seven series heads back to Los Angeles on Friday. – With a report from Agence France-Presse