Oakland, Calif. — Klay Thompson has rediscovered his shooting touch at the perfect time for the playoffs, Draymond Green is crashing the boards and doing it all on both ends as usual, while Kevin Durant is piling up the points even when not shooting at his most efficient.Now, this All-Star cast might welcome back two-time MVP Stephen Curry soon from a knee injury as the Warriors charge ahead toward the goal of a repeat championship.
Durant scored 25 points, Green (Michigan State) led a smothering Golden State defense, and the Warriors held off the late-charging San Antonio Spurs, 99-91, on Tuesday night to win Game 5 and advance to the second round of the Western Conference playoffs.
Thompson had another stellar shooting performance with 24 points, and Green contributed all over with 17 points, a career-playoff high 19 rebounds and seven assists. Golden State looked dominant until the fourth quarter even without Curry — and he could be back soon from a left knee injury.
“Draymond can literally do everything. So these last two games, he’s been rebounding like a beast,” Thompson said. “And his ability to take the ball from the rim and push the break is what sparks the offense so much.”
LaMarcus Aldridge converted a three-point play with 1:31 left that pulled the Spurs within 93-89, and then a pair of free throws at 57.2 to make it a two-point game. Green responded with a long jumper at the top of the key then made two free throws with 9.1 seconds remaining.
The Warriors will face New Orleans in the West semifinals with Game 1 Saturday at Oracle Arena, having smoothly eliminated the Spurs aside from a brief Game 4 blip Sunday at San Antonio. New Orleans, coached by former Golden State top assistant Alvin Gentry, swept Portland in the first round.
Durant didn’t have his usual steady shooting night, going 8 for 19 and missing his initial six 3-point tries. That hardly mattered. After a rebound late in the first half, the reigning Finals MVP drove coast-to-coast for a huge two-handed slam that helped Golden State grab momentum.
Aldridge had 30 points and 12 rebounds, and Patty Mills added 18 points with four 3-pointers for cold-shooting San Antonio. Manu Ginobili had 10 points and seven assists in what might have been the 16th-year pro’s final game at age 40.
The Spurs fought for and without coach Gregg Popovich, away from the team following the death of his wife, Erin, last week following a long illness.
“I think it speaks highly of the character and spirit of this team, of never giving up, of competing until the very end,” Pau Gasol said. “And it was a game and a situation where we easily could have just thrown the towel at different points. But we didn’t. So that’s something that we can be proud of.”
Thompson swished a turnaround fadeaway as the halftime buzzer sounded and scurried for the tunnel hands raised high in triumph as Curry celebrated alongside his Splash Brother. Thompson hit 11 of 22 shots, his fourth time shooting at least 50 percent in the series.
Thompson became the third Warriors player ever to make 600 field goals in the postseason, and Golden State won its 12th straight playoff game at Oracle Arena.
Coach Steve Kerr challenged the Warriors to make “simpler passes” — or “keep hitting singles” as he put it in baseball terms — to avoid silly miscues after a sloppy showing in Sunday’s 103-90 loss that forced the series back to the Bay Area.
After Golden State committed 16 turnovers and managed only 19 assists in the defeat, the Warriors were far better taking care of the ball with just 10 turnovers while dishing out 25 assists.
They used a 13-3 burst in the second quarter to take a 35-26 lead.
Green followed up an 18-rebound outing Sunday with another brilliant night on the boards.
“One thing we spoke about coming into this series was trying to control the glass,” Green said.
76ers advance to Round 2
Joel Embiid hoisted diminutive comedian Kevin Hart not unlike the way a parent would toss up a toddler. Embiid then pulled him in for a hug as confetti rained on the court, team flags waved around them and the promise of a rowdy late-night celebration was on deck.
Hart grabbed the mic and yelled, “Let’s give it up for Joel Embiid!”
Believe it, Philly.
The 76ers are rolling in the postseason — and rappers, politicians, actors and athletes are dancing along in the ride.
Embiid and Ben Simmons shined again in front of rapper Meek Mill, and the dominant duo ushered the nightmares-into-dreams Process of the Philadelphia 76ers into the second round with a 104-91 win over the Miami Heat in Philadelphia.
The 76ers, winners of 10 games just two seasons ago, are in the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs for the first time since 2012.
“I kind of promised the city this,” Embiid said.
The Sixers won the series 4-1 and turned the Wells Fargo Center into the wildest house party in the city. Embiid had 19 points and 12 rebounds, Simmons had 14 points and 10 boards, and the entire team was energized by Mill’s surprise appearance. Mill made a dramatic return hours after Pennsylvania’s highest court ordered him freed while he appeals decade-old gun and drug convictions.
He was taken from prison by helicopter to Philadelphia, where he rang the ceremonial bell at the start of Game 5.
“Welcome home Meek Mill,” was about all that was heard from the public address announcer as wild cheers drowned out the rest. Mill sat courtside next to Hart and Sixers co-owner Michael Rubin.
Before the game, Mill visited privately with the Sixers in their locker room.
“For him to come to this type of game … I was just happy,” Embiid said.
Hart talked trash, wandered onto the edge of the court to rile up fans and palled around with Mill as the young and gettin’ it Sixers proved they just might be the team to beat in the East.
They’ll have plenty of time to rest and recover – Embiid again played in a black mask to guard a face injury – with the other Eastern Conference playoff series expected to stretch into the weekend.
They await the winner of Milwaukee-Boston. The Celtics lead the series 3-2.
Celtics take 3-2 lead
Al Horford had 22 points and 14 rebounds, Marcus Smart made an impact in his first game since mid-March and the Celtics took a 3-2 series lead on the Bucks with a 92-87 victory.
Smart came off the bench and had nine points, five rebounds, four assists and three blocks in his first game since undergoing right thumb surgery. He played 25 minutes wearing a protective splint and had a key assist late from the bottom of a scrum beneath three Milwaukee players.
Terry Rozier added 16 points and five assists for Boston. The home team has won all five games in the first-round series, and Game 6 is Thursday in Milwaukee.
Khris Middleton led the Bucks with 23 points, Jabari Parker added 17 points and eight rebounds, and Giannis Antetokounmpo had a series-low 16 points with 10 rebounds and nine assists.
The Celtics led by 16 before Milwaukee rallied to make it 74-70 with 7:33 left. Middleton scored later and was fouled to get Milwaukee within 84-79, but he failed to complete the three-point play.
A few possessions later, Smart managed to squeeze out a pass to Horford with three Bucks draped over him, and Horford easily dropped in a layup to make it 86-79 with 28.1 seconds left.
Milwaukee got within 87-84 after a layup by Eric Bledsoe, but the Celtics hit enough free throws the rest of the way to secure the win.
The Bucks entered the game shooting an NBA playoff-best 54 percent from the field, but they hit just 37 percent for the game (32-of-87).