OAKLAND: Lou Williams again came off the bench and knocked down big shot after big shot. Patrick Beverley crashed the boards at every chance. Danilo Gallinari drove the lane with authority.
The Los Angeles Clippers took the Warriors right out of their comfort zone by beating the two-time defending champions at their own game with energy on both ends, extending their season long after many had counted them out.
Williams hit a fadeaway jumper with 1:29 left and finished with 33 points and 10 assists, Golden State uncharacteristically clanked shots much of the second half and could not make key stops, and the upstart Clippers sent their first-round series back home with a 129-121 Game 5 win on Wednesday night.
No clinch celebration just yet for the two-time defending champions, who lead 3-2 but needed far more than Kevin Durant’s playoff career-high 45 points.
“I don’t want to get ahead of myself. They’re up 3-2 still, but I just loved how we played, I really did,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “All we talked about is being us. I told our guys, they’ve been them in the series. We have yet to put a game where we are us through the game.”
The Clippers stymied Golden State’s comeback effort on the very court at Oracle Arena where Los Angeles rallied from 31 points down in Game 2 for the largest comeback in NBA postseason history.
Game 6 is Friday back in Los Angeles.
Beverley took a big charge against Klay Thompson with 1:40 left and wound up with 17 points and 14 rebounds for his best outing of the series.
“I thought Patrick Beverley came in, just kicked our butts right away,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “He came out with more energy than we had and that set a tone.”
Houston and James Harden are on to the second round and waiting for another chance at the champs. The Clippers said not just yet, they’re not done.
The Rockets, who squandered a 3-2 series lead to the Warriors in last year’s Western Conference finals, eliminated the Jazz with a 100-93 Game 5 victory at home a few hours earlier Wednesday. Sure, the Warriors have thought about a potential second-round matchup.
“Our focus was to come in and extend the series and get another game on our home floor,” Williams said. “It’s their mistake for looking ahead. That’s on them.”
Gallinari added 26 points and seven rebounds, and Montrezl Harrell had 24 points as the eighth-seeded Clippers are keeping things interesting until the end.
“We’ve got to bring it if we’re going to beat them,” Kerr said.
Durant raised his arm late and called on the Oracle Arena crowd for a major assist — the Warriors needed every little bit of help. Thompson’s 3 with 4:02 left made it 116-114 and Durant tied it on a driving dunk the next time down.
Stephen Curry scored 24 points and Thompson 22 but Golden State did not have it on defense.
“If we come out and just think we’re going to roll over this team because they’re an 8 seed, it doesn’t work that way in the NBA playoffs,” Warriors center Andrew Bogut said.
Durant shot 14 for 26 in his third performance of at least 30 points in the series and ninth 40-point postseason effort.
Curry, already the NBA’s career playoff leader for made 3-pointers, reached 400 postseason 3s.
But the Warriors — all of them, their best shooters — missed badly on good looks and could not defend the way they typically do to generate that sensational transition game.
“That’s the worst-case scenario for any team. You’re missing shots and can’t get stops, you feel like you’re in a bottomless pit,” Durant said. “Hopefully we knock down shots and get stops next game.”
Golden State trailed 71-63 at halftime despite making 10 of 16 3s but allowed Los Angeles to shoot 56 percent, and the Clippers finished at 54.1 percent.
Gallinari hit a 3 out of the break then a free throw following Draymond Green’s technical and Los Angeles made it 81-66 on JaMychal Green’s 3 at the 9:09 mark.
“It’s been a year where things haven’t gone exactly smoothly all the time,” Kerr said. “I’m not surprised by anything, but I expected to come out and play better and win the game. But it’s the NBA playoffs. This is a seven-game series and you’ve got to play. You’ve got to defend with some urgency.”