Game 5 of the Warriors-Rockets series is in the books and the to teams continues to entertain.
The Rockets-Warriors series has been a close one. It's the fourth series in NBA history in which each of the first five games were all decided by six points or fewer. pic.twitter.com/SHpowGu63h- ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 9, 2019
Even without Kevin Durant for the last 14:05 of the game, the Warriors hung on to defeat the Rockets in Game 5, 104-99, behind 27 points from Klay Thompson and from 25 points from Steph Curry.
Despite 31 points from reigning MVP James Harden, the Warriors now hold a 3-2 series lead, capping off yet another close finish to a game in this series.
For more on the Game 5 win, here are the key takeaways:
Curry steps up in Durant's absence
Kevin Durant left the game with a right calf strain in the third quarter. When one star went down, another star stepped up.
Stephen Curry had nine points shooting 4-for-14 from the field and 1-for-8 from 3-point range, with just one free throw attempt when Durant left the game with just over two minutes remaining in the third.
Curry scored four quick points to close out the third, and with a player like him, all it takes is seeing one go through the basket.
He got to the free throw line to start the fourth quarter and sunk both attempts. Next possession down the floor he buried a 3-pointer and at that point, he was officially heating up.
On the ensuing possession, he hit a turnaround midrange jumper, giving him 11 points in just over five minutes from when Durant checked out.
He stepped up when his team needed him most, finishing with 25 points for the game. From the time Durant left till the end of the game, Curry scored 16 points, shooting 5-for-9 from the field and 2-for-3 from beyond the arc with two assists and two rebounds.
Third quarter comeback
The Rockets were trailing by just three points with six minutes remaining in the first half, then the Warriors made their run.
Golden State scored 17 consecutive points and closed out the half strong, taking a commanding 14-point lead into halftime.
Houston wasn't done fighting and they showed that right from the go in the second half.
PJ Tucker buried a 3-pointer and Chris Paul finished a layup at the rim for five quick points to set the tone. Throughout the rest of the quarter, the Rockets slowly but surely chipped into the Warriors' lead.
James Harden was in control the entire frame, attacking off the dribble to get to the free throw line seven times. He scored 12 points in the quarter but also dished out three assists and came up with two steals on defence.
Tucker was the spark-plug for Houston, scoring seven points and grabbing five boards while also notching a pair of steals himself. He was all over the court making positive things happen left and right to bring his team back within striking distance.
Trailing by seven with four and a half minutes left in the quarter, the Rockets rattled off six straight points to bring them within one.
By the end of the quarter, the Rockets had tied the game at 72, holding the Warriors to just 15 points in the period. Houston forced six Golden State turnovers, resulting in 11 points the other way in the Rockets' favour.
CP3 struggles offensively; Harden scores one basket in the 4th Q
It was a rough shooting night for Chris Paul.
In 38 minutes on the court, en route to his 11 points, he shot 3-of-14 from the field and 0-of-6 from beyond the arc (both of which are 2019 postseason lows).
Despite his offensive struggles, the Rockets were still in the game and James Harden had a lot to do with that.
He had 31 points on 10-of-16 shooting with 8 assists, 4 rebounds, and 4 steals but the Beard had only two points in the last 8:30 of the game:
James Harden's shot chart over the final 8:30.- Micah Adams (@MicahAdams13) May 9, 2019
Chance to steal Game 5 with a chance to then close out at home.
The guard with the most dominant scoring season in 30 years...
... takes one shot. pic.twitter.com/tbUjH1lGF4
Over the last 8:30 of the game, the Warriors outscored the Rockets 24-20 with Harden and Paul combining for only six points (four free-throws).
Warriors win rebounding battle; win the game
Each of the previous four games in the series, the team that won the rebounding battle had won the game.
Game 5 was no different.
The Warriors outrebounded the Rockets 42-39 (12-8 on the offensive glass) courtesy of a huge spark provided by Kevin Looney. The reserve, in 22 minutes had a playoff career-high 9 rebounds and finished with a +5 for the game.
Despite those extra shots from the rebounds, the Warriors also outshot their opponents.
The hosts shot 39-of-85 from the field (45.9%) and 13-of-37 from beyond the arc (35.1%). On the other hand, the Rockets shot 33-of-79 from the field (41.8%) and 12-of-41 (29.3%) from long distance.
With no timeline announced so far for Durant's return, can the Warriors close this series out in Game 6 or will the trend of home wins continue, forcing a Game 7 back at the Oracle Arena?