HOUSTON - A year ago, the Houston Rockets saw Chris Paul go down with a hamstring injury that forced him out of Game 6 and Game 7 and led to a series loss to the eventual NBA champions, the Golden State Warriors. On Wednesday night, the Warriors got a dose of what losing a star player means before they managed to hold off the Rockets and secure a 104-99 win.
Kevin Durant landed awkwardly after a shot with 2:05 left in the third quarter. At first, many thought it was an Achilles injury, but later, the team announced that Durant suffered a strained right calf. He got an MRI Thursday morning to determine the extent of the injury.
If it's a Grade 1 strain, then Durant is likely out for the rest of the playoffs if they advance. If it's a Grade 2 strain, then his status would be likely doubtful for the rest of this series.
However, if the MRI deems it as a Grade 2 strain, then the Rockets could see him in a possible Game 7 Sunday.
The numbers after Durant went down in the third quarter look like this:
- 34 Points 36
- 12-23 FG 11-19
- 3-9 3-Pt FG 5-11
When Durant went down, the Rockets had a golden opportunity to put them away at Oracle Arena. While Houston's rally from 20 points down was a statement delivered, it's the final knockout punch in Oakland that continues to elude this Rockets team, which is now 1-11 at Oracle in the playoffs.
Near-wins are not good enough. This Rockets club and its stars failed to deliver when they needed it most down the stretch.
In an 8:58 stretch in the fourth quarter, James Harden had yet to take a shot and ended up with only five points in the final quarter while attempting only three shots. Harden is the MVP, and MVPs can't disappear in a crucial game. For the last 10 minutes, he was a non-factor, as was guard Chris Paul, who finished with only 11 points in the loss.
By the numbers -- Game 5 notable stats
- 14 and 16 - minutes/points by Steph Curry after injury to Kevin Durant
- 45 - minutes logged by James Harden, P.J. Tucker and Klay Thompson
- 5 for 21 - combined three point makes/attempts by Chris Paul ( 0-6) and Eric Gordon ( 5-14 )
- 20 for 43 – combined three point makes/attempts by Klay Thompson and Steph Curry
- 47 - combined points by Klay Thompson ( 25) and Steph Curry (22)
- 15 - turnovers for both the Rockets and Warriors
Now, it's on to Game 6 Friday at 8 p.m. inside Toyota Center. The Rockets are a tough knockout on their home floor, which is why most believe Houston will win -- perhaps in a blowout, with Durant not likely to play -- and force the series back out to Oakland for Sunday's Game 7 at 2:30 p.m.
"Our team played like (expletive) Giants tonight," Warriors head coach Steve Kerr told reporters after the Game 5 win.
Golden State will face the biggest challenge they have endured during this era of championships for their organization. They are motivated and confident to finish off the Rockets. On the flip side, despite being down 3-2, Houston believes it can win Friday and return to the Bay Area to put the final nail in the Warriors' coffin.
"Tough one, but we are capable of being better. Big one for us on Friday," Harden said after the loss.
"They'll bounce back and we'll be ready on Friday. I don't have any doubt," Rockets head coach Mike D'Antoni said. "We got our home court and take care of business there. Keep the feeling, take care of business at home, then we will come back here and try to get it."
Buckle up because this series appears to be on a direct path to a Sunday finish at Oracle Arena.
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