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Warriors vs. Rockets Game 5 final score: Golden State trounces Houston, 114-81

No surprises, here. Warriors complete the 'gentleman's sweep.'

Shaun Livingston and the Warriors ran all over the Rockets.
Shaun Livingston and the Warriors ran all over the Rockets.
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Even without Stephen Curry, the Golden State Warriors cruised to a stress-free game five victory over the Houston Rockets. But this time, it was never close.

The Dubs jumped all over Clutch City in the first quarter, opening up a commanding 17-point lead. The home team never looked back, as the scoring margin increased for every single quarter The only question: is it fool's gold, having played a disinterested, disjointed opponent? Or is this victory a sign of great things to come.

Shaun Livingston got it started early, with a scorching 6-of-6 start to the game. The angular point guard was all things for his team tonight, looking very much like the Sixth Man snub that he is. S-dot was always in control, rarely making mistakes on offense or defense. With Stephen Curry out, it was great to see him step up and help fill the void.

But Livingston wasn't alone. Brandon Rush, once a forgotten man, added an efficient 15 points in 18 minutes, thanks to 3-of-5 shooting from long range. And Leandro Barbosa added nine points of his own, on six shots.

But most importantly, tonight was another vintage performance from Golden State's two heathy all-stars, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson. For the second time this series without Stephen Curry, they looked as good as advertised. Green posted 15 points, nine rebounds, eight assists and two blocks in just 31 minutes. Thompson scored a team-high 27 points (10-of-14 shooting), but did most of his damage in an epic third quarter that featured a number of heat check bombs from Steph Curry range.

As several fans commented, this one got out of hand so fast the Warriors didn't even need heroics from the uber-clutch Marreese Speights and Finals MVP Andre Iguodala (who finished with an impressive six assists).

As good as the Warriors looked (and they looked transcendent -- they outscored the Rockets by 60 without Stephen Curry, per TNT!), there will be a nagging fear that these Rockets were just a perfect storm of bad. A team that quit on its season weeks ago, a coach who is likely out of a job, a pair of stars who lack in leadership (to put it politely), and expectations that they couldn't possibly live up to. Whether the Warriors face the Portland Trailblazers (3-2) or the Los Angeles Clippers (2-3) in the next round, they won't get any of the handicaps that Houston offered.

James Harden, despite it all, was as good as advertised. He dropped 35 points on the Warriors, damn the defender, and went about two quarters with nary a miss from the field (12-of-23). Dwight Howard grabbed an insane 11 offensive rebounds (21 total), and gave the Rox extra possessions to get the job done. But the rest of the Rockets couldn't score if their lives depended on it.

Rockets players not named Harden were 19-of-73 from the field (26%), and a good number of those shots were decent looks. But the role players were not connecting in Oakland, and Harden was not going to put up enough points to beat the Dubs, tonight.

There will be plenty of time to reflect on how good the Warriors can be without Stephen Curry, as we wait for the Blazers-Clippers series to end. But for now, let's be thankful: even without Curry, the Warriors played with a competitive fire any fan could be proud of, win or lose.

By the way: the Trailblazers won in Los Angeles to take a 3-2 series lead. Rip City gets its first shot at closing out the Clippers on Friday, at the Moda Center.