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Golden State Warriors: 3 takeaways from Game 5 thriller vs. Rockets

(Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images)

In a tense back-and-forth battle, the Golden State Warriors went up 3-2 with a five-point victory in Game 5 against the Houston Rockets.

The Golden State Warriors managed to lead by as many as 20 points in Game 5. Yet when Kevin Durant left the game with just over two minutes remaining in the third, Oracle Arena was a nervous wreck. The Houston Rockets had clawed their way back into things to tie the score heading into the final frame on the backbone of 10 points from James Harden in the period.

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Yet for as dominant as they’ve been with KD, the Warriors are also very familiar with playing in his absence. Over the final 12 minutes, they invoked memories of their memorable 73-win run led by the original Big 3, escaping with a 104-99 victory to move within one game of the Western Conference Finals.

It looked as though Golden State would make this a rout early on, outscoring the Rockets 31-17 through the first quarter thanks in large part to Klay Thompson. The struggling sharpshooter got into a groove early with 12 points in the quarter and finished the game with 27 points, the most he’s had in any game this series.

Before leaving the game with what would be diagnosed as a right calf strain, Kevin Durant put up 22 points on 8-of-18 shooting. Draymond Green brought tremendous energy with 12 rebounds and 11 assists. Stephen Curry continued his shooting struggles, going 9-of-23 on his way to 25 points, but came to life in the fourth quarter when he was needed most with 12 points in the final frame.

Houston saw a balanced scoring effort with five players in double figures, led none other by James Harden’s 31 points along with eight assists. Eric Gordon got off to a slow start in missing his first eight shots from the field before finally connecting on a 3-pointer with 7:45 remaining in the third. He finished with 19 points.

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While the Warriors have shown the ability to win big games on the road, Game 5 was essentially a must-win contest. KD’s health is now up in the air and Curry still can’t quite find a rhythm from 3-point land. It was a hard-fought victory, but it will certainly be interesting to see how the injury affects them moving forward.

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