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Final Score: Warriors lose Durant to injury, but outlast Rockets 104-99

Durant went down with a calf injury. but the Warriors refused to let Houston off of the hook. The Rockets are one game away from elimination after a vintage Golden State performance

NBA: Playoffs-Houston Rockets at Golden State Warriors Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The Golden State Warriors lost Kevin Durant to an alarming injury, but won Game 5 104-99 behind the grittiest team effort of the season.

Durant scored 22 points in a sizzling night before limping out with a leg injury in the third quarter.

But the Warriors still had the Splash Bros, as Klay Thompson woke up from his series malaise to score 27 points, and Steph Curry shook off the worst first half I’ve ever seen him play to haymaker the Rockets in crunch time with 20 second half points.

Draymond Green had 8 points, 12 rebounds, and 11 assists in a fiery effort, and Kevon Looney was a defensive monster.

James Harden led the Rockets with 31 points, but vanished mysteriously down the stretch as the game was in the balance. Actually, not mysteriously, we’ve seen him do this before folks. The Warriors defense was FOR REAL tonight, limiting the Rockets to 12-of-41 shooting from downtown, and outrebounding Houston 42-39.

First Half

The Warriors tapped into a lovely flow in front of their adoring home crowd. The ball moved with purpose racking up 11 assists on 13 made field goals. When the Rockets choked off the off-ball motion, the Warriors calmly dribbled into their scoring areas and make Houston pay from close range.

Looney was a madman on the glass in the first quarter as well. He snagged 5 rebounds immediately, 3 on the offensive glass.

The Warriors pushed the lead out to as much to 15. but the Rockets roared back to cut it to 3 halfway through the second quarter behind a surge of inspired play led by P.J. Tucker. TNT announcer Reggie Miller referred to Tucker as the “Heart and Soul” of Houston, and I couldn’t disagree with him.

The Warriors didn’t like Houston’s hopeful attitude, and blitzed them immediately to stretch the lead back up to 20. A 17-0 run! What a barrage.

The Rockets teetered, but didn’t completely lose control of the game as the Warriors bricked several three-pointer attempts in rapid succession. Those missed haymakers allowed Houston to be rescued by the halftime buzzer with a glimpse of hope.

Second Half

The third quarter was marred by the Warriors throwing the ball away in the most asinine ways possible. The turnovers had Golden State coach Steve Kerr pacing the sidelines in a rage.

Curry was a brick machine, whether layup or wide open three-pointer. The Rockets cut the lead down to one. Durant answered with mid-range jumper, and as he jogged away, looked back as if he something stung his right leg.

Immediately, he stopped running. Time was called, and he had to be helped to the locker room.

The Warriors crowd fell into a hush. Houston ended up outscoring the champions in the third quarter, 29-15. After three quarters, the score was tied at 72-all. The Warriors could have felt sorry for themselves with two 7-foot All-Stars sidelined in Durant and DeMarcus Cousins.

Instead, the heart of the Warriors powers activated: Strength in Numbers.

The team galvanized around a suddenly alert Curry, who unleashed his Unanimous MVP form.

This game was not for the faint of heart. This was about a wearied, limping champion eyeing down their hungry rival, while leaning on their home crowd for an emotional boost. Curry, Thompson, and Green refused to crack under pressure, while the Rockets wilted with a chance to steal a series lead on the line.

No excuses in Golden State. Just another W. That won’t be the last game in Oracle Arena, I promise you that. #STRENGTHINNUMBERS

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