Warriors on the brink of elimination after throwing away Game 5 in Houston

Warriors on the brink of elimination after throwing away Game 5 in Houston

BOX SCORE

HOUSTON -- If the Warriors are going to make a fourth consecutive trip to the NBA Finals, they’ll have to do it by recovering from back-to-back losses to win consecutive games against the Rockets.

A 98-94 loss in Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals on Thursday gives Houston a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series.

Four Warriors scored in double figures, with Kevin Durant totaling a team-high 29 points. Klay Thompson put in 23, Stephen Curry 22 and Draymond Green added 12.

The Warriors played generally solid defense, but once again hurt their cause with turnovers. They committed 18, leading to 18 Houston points.

STANDOUT PERFORMER:
He didn’t shoot great, didn’t rebound much and had zero assists. Yet Durant was forcing the action on offense and finding buckets at times no other Warrior could.

Durant’s line: 29 points (8-of-22 shooting from the field, including 3-of-6 from beyond the arc, 10-of-10 from the line), four rebounds and one block. He played 39 minutes and was plus-5.

Side note: Durant is 37-of-37 from the line in the series.

TURNING POINT:
This one was tight, with no lead greater than six after the first quarter. Not until the Warriors committed their 18th turnover, Green losing his dribble in the final seconds leading to a pair of free throws by Eric Gordon with 2.4 seconds remaining was this one decided.

Tied 45-45 at the half, the teams remained within three points throughout the third quarter.

INJURY UPDATE:
Warriors: G Klay Thompson (L knee strain) was listed as questionable and upgraded to available prior to tipoff. F Andre Iguodala (L lateral leg contusion) was listed as questionable and downgraded to out prior to tipoff. G Pat McCaw (lumbar spine contusion) was listed as out.

Rockets: Chris Paul suffered a right hamstring injury late in Game 5. He received treatment after the game according to the TNT broadcast and will be re-evaluated on Friday.

WHAT’S NEXT:
Game 6 is scheduled for Saturday at Oracle Arena in Oakland. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m. Pacific. Pregame coverage on NBC Sports Bay Area begins at 4:30, with postgame coverage immediately after the final horn.

Game Result/Schedule
Game 1 Warriors 119, Rockets 106
Game 2 Rockets 127, Warriors 105
Game 3 Warriors 126, Rockets 85
Game 4 Rockets 95, Warriors 92
Game 5 Rockets 98, Warriors 94
Game 6 Oakland -- Saturday, May 26th at 6pm
Game 7 Houston -- Monday, May 28th at 6pm

All eyes on the point guards in Warriors' biggest game yet

All eyes on the point guards in Warriors' biggest game yet

UPDATE (4:30pm PT on Thursday): Andre Iguodala will not play in Game 5, Steve Kerr announced about 90 minutes before tip-off.

"Just day to day. He has gotten better each day. He's dying to play," Kerr said.

Klay Thompson will play, Kerr announced.

***

HOUSTON -- Stung by a bitter home loss in Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals, the Warriors will try to rebound in Game 5 against the Rockets on Thursday night at Toyota Center.

Pregame coverage on NBC Sports Bay Area begins at 4:30 p.m., with tipoff scheduled for 6 p.m. Postgame coverage will follow immediately after the final horn.

After gaining homecourt advantage with a victory in Game 1, the Warriors gave it back by blowing a double-digit lead in the fourth quarter of Game 4 on Tuesday at Oracle Arena.

Though Klay Thompson and Andre Iguodala are listed as questionable, Thompson almost certainly will play and Iguodala is expected to be a game-time decision.

BETTING LINE

Even

MATCHUP TO WATCH

Stephen Curry vs. Chris Paul: With the exception of Game 3, when he was bothered by foot soreness, Paul has been a factor in every game. It’s apparent that he is comfortable leading the Rockets in the clutch. The same could be said of Curry with the Warriors, though he got out of sorts late in Game 4. Paul was slightly better in Game 4, and it was enough to make the difference. If Curry can reverses that, if gives the Warriors a crucial advantage.

INJURY REPORT

Warriors: F Andre Iguodala (L lateral leg contusion) and G Klay Thompson (L knee strain) are listed as questionable. G Pat McCaw (lumbar spine contustion) is listed as out.

Rockets: No injuries listed.

GAME OFFCIALS

James Capers (crew chief), Eric Lewis, Zach Zarba, Bill Spooner (alternate)

THE TALLY

Game 1: Warriors 119, Rockets 106 at Houston Game 2: Rockets 127, Warriors 105 at Houston Game 3: Warriors 126, Rockets 85 at Oakland Game 4: Rockets 95, Warriors 92 at Oakland

ROAD TO THE CONFERENCE FINALS

Warriors: Defeated San Antonio in five games in the first round, defeated New Orleans in five games in the conference semifinals.

Rockets: Defeated Minnesota in five games in the first round, defeated Utah in five games in the conference semifinals.

SERIES HISTORY

The teams met three times in the regular season, with Houston posting a 122-121 win on Oct. 17 at Oakland, the Warriors taking a 124-114 victory on Jan. 4 at Houston and the Rockets prevailing, 116-108, on Jan. 20 in Houston. The Warriors have won 12 of the last 15 meetings in the regular season.

THREE THINGS TO WATCH

THE LINEUP: Though Thompson is expected to play. Iguodala will be a game-time decision. If he cannot play, the Warriors likely will repeat the lineup from Game 4, with Kevon Looney starting at center. If Jordan Bell, who had some good moments in Game 4, doesn’t start he’s likely get more significant playing time.

THE OFFENSE: The Warriors went away from their usual schemes in Game 4, relying on isolation more than ball movement. Though it was at times successful, they believe it was costly in the end, citing their 12-point fourth quarter. Regaining their identity has been a point of emphasis since Tuesday.

THE PHYSICALITY: The Rockets are the brawnier team, more willing to mix it up. The Warriors have to respond with sharper movements and more grit. They’re on the edge of desperation and realize everything has to be done with more velocity. Don’t be surprised to see them flexing more muscle or diving on the floor.

Game Result/Schedule
Game 1 Warriors 119, Rockets 106
Game 2 Rockets 127, Warriors 105
Game 3 Warriors 126, Rockets 85
Game 4 Rockets 95, Warriors 92
Game 5 Houston -- Thursday, May 24th at 6pm
Game 6 Oakland -- Saturday, May 26th at 6pm
Game 7 Houston -- Monday, May 28th at 6pm

Steve Kerr blasts the NFL's new national anthem policy, 'it's idiotic'

Steve Kerr blasts the NFL's new national anthem policy, 'it's idiotic'

HOUSTON -- As the basketball talk subsided, a broader question came at Steve Kerr like a cold drink on a hot day, refreshing and nourishing and practically necessary.

So the Warriors coach dived in. He lit into the NFL’s latest reaction to player protests designed to shine a spotlight on social justice in America. The league announced Wednesday that it will require players on the field to stand for the national anthem or face being fined by the team.

Call it the Colin Kaepernick rule, because no one in sports more personifies that form of peaceful protest.

“I think it’s just typical of the NFL,” Kerr said Thursday after shootaround prior to Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals against the Rockets. “They’re just playing to their fan base and they’re just basically trying to use the anthem as fake patriotism, nationalism, scaring people. It’s idiotic. But that’s how the NFL has handled its business.

“I’m proud to be in a league that understands patriotism in America is about free speech and about peacefully protesting,” he continued. “Our leadership in the NBA understands that when the NFL players were kneeling, they were kneeling to protest police brutality, to protest racial inequality. They weren’t disrespecting the flag or the military. But our president decided to make it about that, the NFL followed suit, pandered to their fan base, created this hysteria.”

Kerr’s response is not surprising. He is a progressive, often taking a stand on issues involving humanity, from social justice pursuits to campaigns promoting common-sense gun-safely laws to sexual identity/orientation rights.

The NFL’s push to demand players stand for the anthem -- but giving resisting players the latitude to remain in the locker room -- was met with both condemnation and support from around the sports world.

"We want people to be respectful of the national anthem," commissioner Roger Goodell said at an owner’s meeting in Atlanta. "We want people to stand -- that's all personnel -- and make sure they treat this moment in a respectful fashion. That's something we think we owe.

“We were also very sensitive to give players choices.”

Kerr was having none of it.

“This is kind of what’s wrong with our country right now,” he said. “People in high places are trying to divide us, divide loyalties and make this about the flag, as if the flag is something other than what it really is. It’s a representation of what we’re about, which is diversity and peaceful protest and the right to free speech.

“It’s really ironic, actually, what the NFL is doing.”

It’s also ironic that on the same day the NFL announced its new policy, the Milwaukee Police Department released video of its overzealous arrest of Bucks player Sterling Brown, who was handcuffed and tasered in the wake of a parking violation.

This is the kind of behavior that inspired Kaepernick and others to kneel as the national anthem was being played.

The police department has apologized and disciplined the officers involved. The Bucks issued a statement condemning the actions of those officers. Brown plans to file a lawsuit.

"We feel like we’re partners, with players and coaches and management and league management,” Kerr said. “We feel like we’re all partners. And I’m really proud of our players around the league for being community leaders and being outspoken for good, for the change that we need.”