Basketball: Warriors pull one back to deny Thunder

By Kris Shannon

Oklahoma City Thunder center Steven Adams (12) dunks against the Golden State Warriors during the first half of Game 5 of the NBA basketball Western Conference finals. Photo / AP.
Oklahoma City Thunder center Steven Adams (12) dunks against the Golden State Warriors during the first half of Game 5 of the NBA basketball Western Conference finals. Photo / AP.

Steven Adams' maiden trip to the NBA Finals will have to wait another couple of days, at least.

The defending champion Golden State Warriors this afternoon refused to relinquish their crown just yet, pulling a game back in the Western Conference finals.

Golden State shook off consecutive thumpings by the Thunder to seize a 120-111 victory in Oakland, riding a wave of nervous energy from their fans to win a frantic and intensely-fought contest.

Oklahoma City lead the series 3-2 and will have a chance to clinch at home on Sunday (NZT), but the record-setting Warriors showed worrying signs of life after being thoroughly outplayed in games three and four.

Even with two-time MVP Steph Curry still struggling to find his shooting touch - finishing with 31 points but also seven crucial rebounds - the Warriors extended the series after receiving game-winning production from their impressive supporting cast.

Klay Thompson also shot poorly but finished with 27 points, the bench combined to add 30 and Draymond Green, Adams' aggravator-in-chief, looked back to hid old self while grabbing 11 points and 13 rebounds.

Green combined with Andrew Bogut to help the Warriors hold their own on the boards as the Australian centre enjoyed his best game of the series to edge the transtasman duel against Adams. Bogut recorded 15 points and 14 rebounds in a series-high 30 minutes while the Kiwi had eight points, 10 rebounds and a block.

The Thunder were once more carried by Kevin Durant (40 points, seven rebounds and four assists) but Russell Westbrook struggled to exert his usual control, grabbing 31 points but also turning over the ball seven times.

Durant's influence at both ends of the court looked like it would set up a dramatic finale, giving the Thunder their first lead of the night midway through the third. But the Warriors' bench saw them shoot out to a 12-point lead early in the fourth and close out an anxious final quarter to keep their season alive.

Golden State's rebounding parity and big advantage in points in the paint went a long way to accomplishing that goal and those edges were established early, when Adams was consigned to the bench.

It was an eventful opening for the centre, grabbing an offensive rebound and a quick assist but also being called for two soft fouls in the first three minutes. Adams' personal highlight came after checking back into the game in the second, showing great strength to secure an offensive board before dunking emphatically, adding a fine finger-roll moments later.

But Bogut, in particular, reaped the benefits of Adams' restricted minutes, tipping in a Curry miss right before the major break to help his side take an eight-point lead to the half.

And although the Thunder threatened to steal the game, this wild series will now head to Oklahoma, where the Warriors will be hoping to send it back to Oakland for a decisive game seven.

- NZ Herald

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter


© Copyright 2016, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf03 at 24 Oct 2016 06:21:39 Processing Time: 509ms