Between the legs, around the back, step back, and splash. He’s done the same exact move thousands of times throughout his career, but Steph Curry’s rainmaker just before the half of Game 5 delivered a gut punch to the Los Angeles Lakers.
Curry’s three-pointer at the end of the first half capped off a 16-to-5 run, and gave the Golden State Warriors an 11-point lead. A lead they would never relinquish.
Curry scored 27 points and had eight assists, leading the Warriors to a 121-106 victory over the Lakers in Game 5 of the Western Conference Semifinals. The win kept the Warriors alive in the series as they staved off elimination, improving to 8-2 in such games throughout their dynastic tenure atop the NBA. The series shifts back to Los Angeles for Game 6 on Friday night.
“When you get contributions from everybody that helps,” Curry said after the victory. “And the fact that we can control the game from the jump the way we did, handle that run the way we did, and then close out that fourth quarter strong is exactly how we expect to play. Now it’s just a matter of can we take it on the road and win a must-win game on Friday.”
Curry got much-needed help on Wednesday, something he didn’t have in the last two games at Cyrpto.com arena. Andrew Wiggins chipped in 25 points, and Draymond Green had his best offensive game of the series with 20 points.
“I definitely wanted to come out and set a tone,” said Green of his best-scoring outburst of the series. “I knew it was on me to come out aggressive. Our season was on the line and our backs were against the wall, you better come out aggressive in those cases. That was my mindset from the gate, to just attack. Wiggins was aggressive as hell tonight too. Now we have to take the show on the road.”
Just as they did the last time they had an opportunity to close a team out on the road, the Lakers got off to a sluggish start in Game 5.
Golden State jumped out to a 17-5 start before the Lakers took a timeout to catch their breath. The Warriors frenetic pace proved to be problematic for the Lakers, leading to 20 points off turnovers for Golden State.
“That’s just how the playoffs go. They came out and had the crowd behind them,” said Lakers’ head coach Darvin Hame on the reason for the Lakers lackluster start. “They were able to see some shots go in early and really got it going from the three-point line. It is what it is. We just have to come out the same on our home floor.”
LeBron James and Anthony Davis led the Lakers, combining for 48 points in the loss. Dennis Schröder had 14 points off the bench and was the best player on the floor for the purple and gold with a +14 point differential.
“We had some good moments, but not for the full 48 minutes. We’ll have another opportunity on Friday,” said James of the game overall. “We know they’re a team of runs and we just have to be able to match that.”
The Lakers appeared to have all the momentum heading into Game 5 after they won both games at home by a combined 33 points and took a commanding 3-1 series lead. James told reporters after the victory that he and his teammates had learned from their blowout loss in Game 5 against the Grizzlies in Memphis last series, and would be ready for the Warriors on Wednesday.
Entering Game 5, the Lakers had shot 42 more free throws than the Warriors in the series, with a huge 103-61 disparity that has played a pivotal role in the series.
“Our game is to attack the paint,” said James of the free throw disparity, which was surprisingly even on Wednesday. “We don’t mind physical contact, we actually like physical contact. We don’t shy away from it. The game is always won between the four lines and we have to be better on Friday for sure.”
After trailing by 12 early, the Lakers were able to slow down the Warriors pace by getting to the free throw the line. By the end of the first quarter, they had cut the lead to 32-28, and took a brief 45-42 lead midway through the second quarter.
But Curry and the Warriors closed the quarter strong and took a double-digit lead into the locker room and never allowed it to get to under nine points the entire second half.
Curry now has 109 4th quarter points these playoffs, over 40 more than any other player.
“Steph at this point in his career, he really feels what’s required of him in a game,” said Warriors’ head coach Steve Kerr. “It’s pretty impressive.”
Davis took an elbow to the side of the head late in the fourth quarter by Kevon Looney and had to go back to the locker room in a wheelchair to be evaluated. He did not return to the game and his availability for Game 6 is unknown.
Game 6 will tipoff on Friday night at Crypto.com arena in Los Angeles.
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Source: NBC Los Angeles
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