Raptors fail to clinch Game 5 win against Warriors
Sometimes in sports, fans get so caught up in the drive to win they lose perspective about what’s really important.
That’s what happened early in the second quarter of the National Basketball Association game between the Toronto Raptors and the Golden State Warriors when Warriors forward Kevin Durant‘s leg suddenly buckled underneath him, sending him tumbling to the court floor.
The Toronto fans, hungry for the first championship in their 24-year history, immediately started to cheer, sensing that an injured Durant could ease their path to victory. One more win and the championship trophy would be hoisted in Canada for the first time.
It took a few of Toronto’s own players, including Kyle Lowry and Danny Green, to stand up to quiet the crowd at Scotiabank Arena, knowing that Durant was in serious pain as he was helped off the court and straight to the locker room. The cheers then gave way to an eerie silence, or about as silent as 20,000 basketball fans can be. That was followed by more supportive chants of “KD, KD.”
“I don’t think fans knew of the significance of the injury,” Lowry told reporters after his team fell 106-105 to the Warriors. “In this league, we’re all brothers, and it’s a small brotherhood and you never want to see a competitor like him go down.”
Stephen Curry, the Warriors guard who once lived in Toronto while his father played for the Raptors and who is married to a Canadian, said he was “confused” by the fan reaction.
“That’s not my experience with this city and I just hope that ugliness doesn’t show itself again as we go forward in this series,” Curry told reporters after the game.
Curry took the unusual step of following Durant off the court even though he was still in the game - a game that would have ended the Warriors season if they had lost.
“Sometimes the spirit tells you what to do,” said Curry, who led all scorers in the game with 31 points. “You don’t really make decisions, you just act on it.”
Durant, who missed the first four games of this final series with a debilitating calf injury, had come back for game five in a bid to help his team stave off elimination. After a blazing start in which he scored 11 points in just 12 minutes of playing time, he buckled in the corner of the court, untouched.
An emotional Bob Myers, direct of basketball operations for Golden State, said Durant would need an MRI to determine the full extent of the injury on his Achilles heel. He said anyone doubting Durant’s commitment to play doesn’t understand him. The two-time finals MVP has been out for almost a month after getting injured in the series against Houston.
“Kevin Durant loves to play basketball, and the people that questioned whether he wanted to get back to this team were wrong,” Myers said, choking back tears. “He’s one of the most misunderstood people. He’s a good teammate, he’s a good person. It’s not fair.”
For Klay Thompson, who added 26 points of his own, the injury took some of the joy out of the victory.
“It’s very deflating,’ he said. “It’s hard to even celebrate this win.”