OAKLAND (California) • Stephen Curry dashed down the lane, twisted past one Oklahoma City defender and under another, leapt and moved the ball from his left hand to his right and scooped it into the basket for the clinching lay-up that led his Golden State Warriors to victory. The Warriors had a 10-point lead with 62 seconds left.
"We ain't going home!" Curry repeatedly shouted into a frenzied crowd.
No, the Warriors are not. They are headed to Oklahoma again. Trying to punctuate the best regular season in National Basketball Association history with a championship, the Warriors staved off play-off elimination with a 120-111 win on Thursday over the Thunder in Game 5 of the Western Conference finals.
Golden State still trail the best-of-seven series 2-3. Game 6 is today (tomorrow morning, Singapore time) and should the Warriors win, a decisive Game 7 would be played in Oakland on Monday.
In NBA play-off history, the 232 teams who have trailed by 1-3 have come back to win just nine times - a daunting 3.9 per cent win rate.
The reigning champions still fancy their chances.
"We know what it takes to win on the road," power forward Draymond Green, who contributed 11 points, 13 rebounds and four blocked shots to the win.
"We've done it before. We've just got to make sure that we use that experience."
Curry, named to the all-NBA first team earlier in the day, led the Warriors with 31 points. He also had seven rebounds and six assists.
But he would not have been in position to clinch the game without the kind of wide support that has lifted the Warriors all season.
After three quarters of wrangling with the Thunder, Golden State opened the fourth quarter with an 8-0 run as Curry and Klay Thompson rested on the bench.
Harrison Barnes' three-pointer from the top of the key, following jumpers from Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston, opened an 89-77 advantage, Golden State's biggest lead of the game to that point.
Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant had a game-high 40 points, and Russell Westbrook had 31 points, seven rebounds and eight assists.
Unlike the Warriors, they were unable to get the kind of support from team-mates that had carried them to within one win of the NBA Finals.
The Warriors - led by Marreese Speights' 14 points - outscored the Thunder 30-13 off the bench.
"We really relied on the entire team tonight, which is when we're at our best," Curry said.
Andrew Bogut certainly played his part with a play-off career-high 15 points and 14 rebounds. His numbers were a far cry from the first four games, when he averaged only 14 minutes, three points and 4.3 rebounds.
Serge Ibaka had 13 points and Steven Adams a team-high 10 rebounds for the Thunder, who were able to eliminate the Dallas Mavericks and San Antonio Spurs in earlier series at the first opportunity.
The Thunder made 13 of their 30 three-point attempts, outscoring the Warriors 39-27 from beyond the arc. Golden State offset Oklahoma City's advantage from long distance with a 31-20 edge on free-throw points, which did not sit well with Thunder coach Billy Donovan. The Warriors attempted 34 foul shots to the Thunder's 24.
"The difference in the game was the fact that they went to the free-throw line 34 times. That was something that was very, very difficult to overcome," he said.
NEW YORK TIMES, REUTERS
OKLAHOMA CITY V GOLDEN STATE
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