With the Warriors’ record-breaking season in peril, backup big man Marreese Speights reminded the world on Twitter that Golden State has spent the 2015-16 season doing what many said couldn’t be done.
“Y’all never seen a 73 win team .. Y’all never seen a player win unanimous mvp... Hahha this story not over!! #history #believe.”
Speights proved to be a social media prophet, and Golden State Warriors staved off elimination with a 120-111 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 5 of the Western Conference finals Thursday night at Oracle Arena.
The story will continue Saturday in Oklahoma City, where the Warriors will be down 3-2 in the best-of-seven series, still facing elimination and hoping to force a deciding Game 7 back in Oakland on Monday.
The Thunder obliterated the Warriors in Games 3 and 4 in Oklahoma City, looking like the more physical and passionate team. Those losses shamed the Warriors into a better showing at Oracle.
“We were embarrassed in OKC in the last couple of games,” said Warriors coach Steve Kerr. “We fought hard tonight, and that’s half the battle. I thought the Thunder played hard and extremely well and we had to play well to fend them off ... great fight and contributions up and down the roster.”
Stephen Curry (31 points, seven rebounds, six assists) and Klay Thompson (27 points) did what might be expected with the prospect of their season ending early.
But there also were contributions from center Andrew Bogut (15 points, 14 rebounds) and Speights (14 points in eight minutes) that helped Golden State fight off the Thunder.
The Warriors needed that after Oklahoma City’s big men were forces around the rim. Bogut played 30 minutes after playing no more than 17 minutes in any of the previous four games.
Bogut was credited with only two blocks, but he affected several shots around the rim.
“I believe in (Bogut),” Kerr said. “I think he can play that way in Game 6. I think he found his stride (Thursday).”
It will take more of that to keep the Warriors’ historic season going. Their 73-win regular season was record-setting, but a loss in the conference finals would leave them as the best regular-season team ever that couldn’t complete the ultimate task and capture a championship.
The Warriors have been fun to watch all season, and that fun is usually reflected in the mood of the team, one that was more serious before Game 5.
“We’re a loose group and we were still loose, but it was, ‘We’re going to give this thing a crack,’ ” Bogut said. “You could see that on guys’ faces. We didn’t want to end it (Thursday) – push it to OKC and see what happens.”
Kevin Durant scored 40 points and Russell Westbrook had 31 points and eight assists for Oklahoma City, which shot just 42.9 percent and missed 22 of its 37 shots in the paint.
“We missed a lot of easy shots,” Westbrook said.
Still, the Thunder had chances to steal the game after taking the lead for the first time at 68-67 with 6:06 left in the third quarter. But Oklahoma City was unable to sustain that momentum after the Warriors opened the fourth quarter with an 8-0 run to take an 89-77 lead with 11:04 to play.
“I thought we played very well,” said Oklahoma City coach Billy Donovan. “Wish we could have played better. ... Try to continually evolve and get better from this and find ways to improve in the things we need to do and get ready to play Game 6.”
Oklahoma City hopes that’s where the story ends.
Jason Jones: @mr_jasonjones.