Warriors rule the west
OAKLAND, California (AP):
After a generation of wishing and waiting, the Golden State Warriors have finally arrived on basketball's biggest stage again, booking their place in the NBA Finals with a 104-90 win against Houston on Wednesday.
Stephen Curry had 26 points and eight rebounds and Harrison Barnes added 24 points as the Warriors completed a 4-1 series victory and advanced to the finals for the first time in 40 years.
"Why not us?"league MVP Curry said to a roaring crowd after the Warriors received the Western Conference trophy from Alvin Attles, the coach of their prior championship team in 1975.
"The Bay Area's been waiting for 40 years," Curry said later. "It's time."
The Warriors shook off a slow start and sweated out a shaky finish in Game 5 to close out the Rockets and set up a match-up with Cleveland beginning June 4.
Dwight Howard led Houston with 18 points and 16 rebounds. But MVP runner-up James Harden had a forgettable finale, with a play-off-record 13 turnovers and 14 points on 2-of-11 shooting.
"Tried to do a little bit too much and turned the ball over and gave them easy baskets in transition," Harden said. "This isn't where we wanted to end at. It's a really good season for us. Next year we want to be better, and we will."
Curry said he had no lingering effects from his frightening fall in Game 4, which left him with a bruised head and right side. He wore a protective yellow sleeve on his right arm, which he shed in the third quarter after shooting 4 for 12 and the Warriors clinging to a 52-46 halftime lead.
Things got tougher on Curry and the Warriors when backcourt mate Thompson faked a shot that drew Trevor Ariza in the air early in the fourth quarter. Thompson absorbed Ariza's knee to the side of his head, sending him to the floor.
Thompson, who finished with 20 points, lay on the ground for a minute before walking to the locker room. He came back to the bench after receiving stitches on his right ear.
The Warriors said he could've returned, but they never needed him. They started the fourth on a 13-4 run and held off Houston's last-ditch efforts on free throws.
Barnes highlighted the decisive spurt with a dunk that gave Golden State an 87-72 lead with 7:10 remaining.
Now looms a Final series that will be marketed as Curry versus Cleveland star LeBron James. King James vs. the Baby-Faced Assassin. The four-time NBA MVP vs. his successor.