Golden State Warriors has an opportunity to keep Northern California skies blue, not purple, for the rest of the spring and summer when it seeks a close-out victory over the visiting Sacramento Kings in Game 6 of their first-round Western Conference playoff series on Friday night in San Francisco.
Using improved rebounding and offensive efficiency, the sixth-seeded defending champions have bounced back after two series-opening losses on the road to win three straight, including Game 5 in Sacramento on Wednesday night.
In taking a 3-2 lead in the first-round series, the Warriors not only canceled Sacramento’s postgame purple beam-lighting celebration, but also moved within one win in the best-of-seven series from advancing to the Western semifinals against either the Memphis Grizzlies or Los Angeles Lakers.
A Game 7, if necessary, would be played in Sacramento on Sunday.
Stephen Curry (31 points), Klay Thompson (25), Draymond Green (21) and Andrew Wiggins (20) all chipped in offensively in Wednesday’s tightly contested 123-116 victory, but Warriors coach Steve Kerr also noted the performances of Kevon Looney and Jordan Poole in the key win.
That’s because Looney matched his career playoff high of 22 rebounds, including seven on the offensive end, and Poole had no turnovers in 23 minutes, each contributing to what Kerr considers the two most important categories for his team in the series.
“We understand the nature of a seven-game series: It’s the long haul and you have to grow within the series,” Kerr said. “We did that after the first two games. Those first two that we lost, we didn’t rebound and we turned the ball over like crazy. And the next three we have done a good job in those areas and evened out the possession game, which is really important for us.
“If we can keep the possessions even, we usually win because of our shooting. It’s not done yet. We’ve done it well for three games; we’ve got to do it again.”
Thanks in large part to 11 offensive rebounds and just 14 turnovers, the Warriors took 96 shots in Game 5, six more than the Kings. That difference magnified Golden State’s 52.1 percent to 46.7 percent advantage in field-goal shooting.
Curry shot just 2-for-10 on 3-pointers, but the visitors still managed to make one more 3-pointer than Sacramento.
The Kings contributed to that deficit by going just 2-for-22 from behind the arc over the final three periods after setting a franchise single-quarter record with eight threes in 12 tries in the first 12 minutes, during which the third-seeded hosts went up by as many as 10.
Even with De’Aaron Fox playing with a fractured tip of his left index finger -- he equaled his series-low with 24 points -- Kings coach Mike Brown constantly encouraged his players in timeouts to keep firing.
Afterward, he did the same, even while acknowledging the lights will be their brightest come Friday night.
“We’ve been great when our backs have been against the wall all season, so I don’t see it being any different,” Brown said. “We’ll be ready for Game 6. Our guys know what’s at stake and our guys are looking forward to the challenge.
“The biggest thing is if we lose, our season comes to an end. It’s as simple as that. That in itself should heighten the sense of urgency or awareness to go get it done, and I have full confidence our guys will go get it done.”
The Northern California rivals are meeting in the NBA postseason for the first time.
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