The Journal Gazette
Wednesday, June 12, 2019 1:00 am

No celebration for Warriors after Durant injury

TIM REYNOLDS | Associated Press

TORONTO – The scoreboard said Golden State 106, Toronto 105. The reality was both teams lost.

It's almost unimaginable – an NBA Finals game where neither team felt like celebrating afterward. That was the bizarre reality on Monday night, after the Warriors staved off elimination by rallying in the final moments to beat the Raptors and send this series back to Oracle Arena for Game 6 – on a night when Kevin Durant's season came to an end.

Durant has an Achilles injury. The Warriors know it's bad. They planned to find out how bad Tuesday.

“It's devastating,” Toronto forward Kawhi Leonard said.

He wasn't talking about losing the game. He was talking about seeing Durant get hurt.

Leonard knows what it's like to have the game taken away by injury. He missed most of last season with a leg injury, one that limited him to nine games. He saw his commitment to the game questioned – the same way Durant had by some in recent days – and came out the other side a better player.

That was the hope after Game 5 of the Finals. The series truly seemed insignificant, with both sides aching about Durant's situation.

“I love K.D.,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said. “I love watching him play. When anybody goes down you're saddened by it, but when one of the great players like that goes down, it's almost shocking.”

Durant missed the previous nine games with what the Warriors insist was a strained calf muscle. This is not a calf injury anymore. Warriors general manager Bob Myers gave a postgame news conference where he delivered the emotional news that Durant hurt his Achilles.

“Kevin takes a lot of hits sometimes, but he just wants to play basketball and right now he can't,” Myers said. “Basketball has gotten him through his life. I don't know that we can all understand how much it means to him. He just wants to play basketball with his teammates and compete.”

This should have gone so differently for the Warriors.

They're the ones who were down 3-1 in this title series.

All they did Monday night was rally from six points down in the final three minutes, get a fantastic defensive stand on the last play of the game to deny Toronto a win and a championship, and send the series back home for one final game in Oakland, California, before moving to San Francisco next season.

The Warriors won the last two NBA championships largely because of Durant. If they win the next two games for another championship, it'll be for Durant.

“It's a team full of heart,” said Warriors center DeMarcus Cousins, who spent a year recovering from an Achilles injury that denied him a monster contract last summer and saw him sign with Golden State on a mid-level deal.

“It's as simple as that. We're fighters. It's in our DNA. We're going to go down fighting. Period.”

Durant would want it no other way.

The joy that should have come out from one locker room Monday night will, for certain, be exhibited by someone Thursday night.

“We're going to give everything we got,” Warriors guard Stephen Curry said. “I would like to say I would guarantee the win – who knows how it's going to end up – but we're going to give everything we got. We're going to fight, we're going to compete, and I know if we get a chance to talk to him the next two days, that's what he would expect.”

NBA Finals

Toronto vs. Golden State


Raptors lead 3-2

Game 1: Toronto 118, Golden State 109

Game 2: Golden State 109, Toronto 104

Game 3: Toronto 123, Golden State 109

Game 4: Toronto 105, Golden State 92

Game 5: Golden State 106, Toronto 105

Game 6: Thursday, at Golden State, 9 p.m.

Game 7: Sunday, at Toronto, 8 p.m.*

*if necessary

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