HOUSTON (Texas) • The Houston Rockets found it hard to stop Stephen Curry down the stretch on Friday night, even if he played with a dislocated finger on his left hand and went scoreless in the first half.
The Golden State guard scored a team-high 33 points - all of them in the second half - as the Warriors shook off the absence of injured star forward Kevin Durant to win 118-113 and advance to the National Basketball Association Western Conference Finals following their 4-2 victory in the semi-final series.
"We knew at some point we would have a chance to steal this game and we did," said Curry, who injured his finger in Game 2.
He discovered his scoring touch after the break at the Toyota Centre, especially in the fourth quarter when he poured in 23 points.
Scoreless on zero-for-five shooting in the first half, Curry sank a pair of clutch three-pointers down the stretch of the fourth.
He was a perfect eight-for-eight from the foul line in the final 30 seconds.
"The guys were telling me to be aggressive and the floodgates would open at some point. In the fourth quarter it was amazing," he said.
Two-time defending champions Warriors punched their ticket to the NBA's final four for the fifth consecutive season and eliminated Houston from the post-season for the fourth time in five years.
James Harden paced the Rockets with 35 points, while Chris Paul produced his best game of the series with 27 points and 11 rebounds.
Reigning NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Durant suffered a calf strain in the third quarter of Game 5 and Golden State are hoping to get him back soon.
"This whole play-off run he has been the best player in the league and has carried us, so the least we could do is have his back and move on to the next round," added Curry of Durant, who is averaging 34.2 points in the play-offs compared to 26.0 in the regular season.
Warriors forward Draymond Green, who had eight points, said the team had to revert to their vintage championship form from before Durant joined them in 2016.
"A lot of movement just trying to push the tempo," Green said.
"With Kevin, you can kind of be lazy knowing you can throw the ball to (him) and he'll get that bucket. It was a little throwback for us."
Durant's status is uncertain for Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals on Tuesday in Oakland, California, against either the Portland Trail Blazers or the Denver Nuggets.