Golden State Warriors Dallas Mavericks Game 5

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — As the clock ticked the last few seconds, Klay Thompson began dancing on the sidelines before being nearly moved to tears during a celebration with his teammates.

After two major surgeries and two years of grueling rehabilitation, Thompson returned to form and took the Golden State Warriors back to the NBA Finals.

Thompson hit 32 points and the Warriors advanced to their sixth Finals in the past eight seasons by beating the Dallas Mavericks 120-110 in Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals on Thursday night.

“It’s really hard to put into words,” Thompson said. I’m just grateful.

Thompson tore his left ACL in a season-ending Game 6 loss in the 2019 NBA Finals to Toronto, then tore his right Achilles tendon just before the start of the 2020 season -21. After Golden State missed the playoffs in both seasons it was sidelined, Thompson finally returned to action in January.

The performance against the Mavericks showed he was close to regaining his former level of stardom.

Thompson scored 19 points in the first half, including a 3-pointer that he tied with his teammate Stephen CurryThe signature jolt as the Warriors took a 17-point halftime lead and went the rest of the way.

“You could see how much he’s been missing over the past two years,” Draymond Green said. “We are lucky to have Klay Thompson we know it because we know how good it is.

Andre Wiggins added 18 points and 10 rebounds, Green scored 17 points, and Curry had 15 points and nine assists. He was named the series MVP.

Luka Doncic overcame a slow start to score 28 points for the Mavericks. Spencer Dinwiddie added 26.

After missing the playoffs in 2020 and 21 in consecutive seasons plagued by injuries, the Warriors are returning to a familiar step. They join Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls in the 1990s, Magic Johnson’s Lakers in the 1980s and Bill Russell’s Celtics in the 1950s and 1960s as the only franchises to advance to the NBA Finals in the least six times in eight years. .

“For our team, our guys, especially the core group, to be part of this six times in eight years, I don’t even know what to say,” coach Steve Kerr said. “It just takes an enormous amount of skill, determination and hard work.”

Golden State will host the winner of the Eastern Conference Finals between Boston and Miami on June 2 in Game 1 of the NBA Finals. The Celtics hold a 3-2 lead going into Game 6 at home on Friday night.

The Warriors followed their pattern from the first two rounds by bouncing back after squandering a chance to end a road streak by winning at home. Golden State is now 9-0 at Chase Center this postseason, tying the 2017 team for the most consecutive single postseason home wins in NBA history.

After making just seven 3-pointers in the first four games of the series, Thompson made eight this game for a record fifth time in the playoffs.

The latter two won the last two rounds against Memphis and Dallas, raising the question of whether his nickname should be changed from “Game 6 Klay” for his history in this game to “Clinching Klay”.

“I’m happy with ‘Game 6 Klay.’ I don’t need another nickname,” Thompson said with a smile. “It’s nice not to have to take him out yet.”

Thompson gave the Warriors a 13-point lead in the first half when he hit one from the corner before dancing and added two early in the third quarter for a 23-point lead.

Dallas cut a 25-point deficit to eight in the final minute of the third quarter, but couldn’t get over the bump in the fourth.

“I don’t like to lose, especially not like this,” said Doncic. “I played terribly. But if we talk about our season, I’m really proud of this team. … No one had us here. But I promise we fought until the end.

SLOW START

Doncic had a rocky start, shooting 2 of 10 in the first quarter. His eight misses were tied for the most in the first quarter of a playoff game since james lebron missed all nine attempts in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals against Atlanta in 2015.

Doncic was held to six points in the first half, his weakest first half of his playoff career, on 2-for-12 shooting before finding his shot in the third quarter.

“We need Luka to play big a lot of nights just to give us a chance, and unfortunately the ball just didn’t go for him tonight,” coach Jason Kidd said. “I think he carries the load as well as anyone, and I think for us as an organization we’re going to help lighten that load as we move forward.”

MOODY MANIA

With Otto Porter (left foot) sidelined for a second straight game, the Warriors received a big first-half boost from 19-year-old rookie Moses Moody.

Moody scored all of his seven points in the second quarter with his 3-pointer giving Golden State a 56-38 lead. Moody scored just six points in the first three games of this series for the Warriors before scoring 17 in the last two games with Porter ruled out.

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