SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Draymond Green loved Golden State’s defensive energy against LeBron James and knows the Warriors must bring that same urgency back to Los Angeles with another chance to save this topsy-turvy season and defend their title.
They need the same focus again whether or not Lakers star Anthony Davis is clogging up the middle after he suffered a head injury in the fourth quarter.
Stephen Curry had 27 points and eight assists, Andrew Wiggins added 25 points, seven rebounds and five assists, and the reigning champion Warriors staved off elimination by beating the Lakers 121-106 in Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinals Wednesday night.
The Warriors have rallied before with this core group on the big postseason stage, becoming the first defending champion to come back from 2-0 down to beat Sacramento in the first round.
“We’re champions, so there’s pressure every time you step on the floor,” Green said. “You go out there, you don’t win people are ready to crush you. People forget about the things that you’ve done in the past.”
James had 25 points and nine rebounds for Los Angeles. Davis added 23 points and nine rebounds but went to the locker room late after getting hit in the head by Kevon Looney as they fought for position in the paint on D’Angelo Russell’s layup with 7:43 remaining.
Davis grabbed at his head grimacing before going to the locker room. His status for Game 6 on Friday night back in Los Angeles is unclear but coach Darivn Ham was encouraged afterward without providing details on what evaluation — such as concussion testing — the big man went through once in the locker room. TNT reported Davis required a wheelchair to go to the locker room.
“Obviously, everyone saw he took a shot to the head, but we just checked in on him, he seems to be doing really good already,” Ham said. “That’s just where he’s at. That’s the status of it right now.”
Austin Reaves made a 3-pointer with 5:25 to play that cut the Warriors’ lead to single digits at 104-95 only for Curry to answer with five straight points, then he hit another big shot after Russell connected from deep.
Green contributed 20 points and 10 rebounds as Golden State played tough defense that led to better chances on the offensive end — just as coach Steve Kerr has challenged his team to to.
“Our defensive mindfulness was there,” Curry said.
Now, it’s back to LA where the Lakers 5-0 at home this postseason, having won eight consecutive games on their own floor since losing to the Bulls on March 26.
Golden State is trying rally from a 3-1 series deficit for only the second time in franchise history and will try to win one more to bring Game 7 back to Chase Center on Sunday. The Warriors rallied from 3-1 down in the 2016 Western Conference finals against Oklahoma City.
Curry beat the halftime buzzer with a 3-pointer over Lonnie Walker IV as the Warriors took a 70-59 lead. The 70 first-half points were the most Golden State in the playoffs since scoring 72 in a Game 6 first-round win over the Clippers in 2019. The last team to score 70 or more in a first half of a playoff game versus the Lakers was Phoenix with 71 in Game 4 of the 2000 second round.
Green and Wiggins took turns on James and Golden State tried to take Davis out of rhythm after he had 23 points, 15 rebounds, three steals and two assists in Game 4.
Curry shot 12 for 24 but just 3 of 11 from long range coming off his third career playoff triple-double in a 104-101 Game 4 loss.
“I have a lot of confidence we can come back in this series,” Curry said. “And until otherwise, we stay in that kind of mindset.”
The Warriors, who had used five lineup combinations in their initial 11 postseason games, stuck with Gary Payton II for the second straight game — and it paid off.
He scored 13 points and converted a timely three-point play with 7:34 remaining to go with six rebounds.
Jordan Poole came off the bench and hit his first 3 since Game 1 late in the second quarter after going 0 for 8 the previous three games.
Klay Thompson struggled again. He went 3 for 11 in Monday’s loss to mark just the eighth time in his 150 postseason games that he scored in single digits — and three of the previous seven came before Kerr became coach in 2014.
On Thursday, he missed his initial four shots and 6 of his first seven to finish with 10 — but has a history of spectacular Game 6 performances and goes back to LA with a chance to shine.
Lakers: Los Angeles was outrebounded 18-17 in the first half and 48-38 overall. … The Lakers scored 20 points off the Warriors’ 14 turnovers but committed 16 leading to 20 Warriors points. … James has never squandered a 3-1 playoff series lead. … The Lakers lost for only the six time since March 19 (17-6).
Warriors: Six Warriors accounted for seven first-quarter 3s after Golden State made only 12 total in Game 4 (12 of 41). … Golden State is 16-4 in Game 5s and 8-2 when facing elimination dating to its 2015 title run, including 4-2 at home. In addition, the Warriors are 34-12 in postseason games following a loss. By JANIE McCAULEY AP Sports Writer