OAKLAND, Calif. — After a first-round series filled with drama on the court and off it, the Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Clippers will put the focus back on basketball in the biggest way possible.
Next up: Game 7.
Stephen Curry scored 24 points and dished out nine assists, and the Warriors forced a winner-take-all series finale by outlasting the Clippers 100-99 Thursday night.
“We are going to a Game 7 despite all the sideline music, and I like my chances because I’ve got a group of guys that want to do whatever it takes to win,” Warriors coach Mark Jackson said.
Andre Iguodala added 15 points, and Draymond Green had 14 points and 14 rebounds for the Warriors, handing Los Angeles one more obstacle to overcome in a week full of them after Clippers owner Donald Sterling earned a lifetime ban from the NBA for his racist remarks.
Game 7 is Saturday night in Los Angeles, where an inspired Clippers crowd rallying behind the motto “We Are One” will be on hand at Staples Center.
“It’s exciting. A lot of guys in the locker room haven’t been in a Game 7,” said Curry, who shot 9 of 24.
The Warriors limited big men Blake Griffin (17 points, nine rebounds) and DeAndre Jordan (19 rebounds, nine points) even after center Jermaine O’Neal left with a sprained right knee in the second quarter. The Clippers simply ran out of time in the closing minute, missing three shots before Matt Barnes made a 3-pointer with 1.1 seconds to play.
Los Angeles fouled Curry, who missed both free throws. Green grabbed the rebound as the buzzer sounded, touching off a confetti-filled celebration throughout the gold-shirt wearing sellout crowd of 19,596, which packed an unusually warm Oracle Arena that rocked and roared throughout.
“It was one of those hustle games. Give them credit. I thought they came up with just enough plays to beat us,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said.
Jamal Crawford scored 19 points, and Barnes had 18 points and 11 rebounds for the Clippers, who are trying to win just their third playoff series since Sterling bought the franchise in 1981.
Clippers point guard Chris Paul appeared hampered by the strained left hamstring that has bothered him all series. He crouched down and held his knees during stoppages, often wincing in pain, and trainers also worked on his left hand. He finished with nine points, eight assists and five rebounds.
Golden State shot 39.3 percent, while the Clippers were held to 36.8 percent.
“We understand the journey,” Crawford said. “It won’t be easy, but we feel like we’re in a good position. We’re at home and we’ll be ready.”
With the stakes higher than they’ve been all season, the teams traded blows in a fast and physical game that often featured more fouls than flamboyant plays.
O’Neal appeared to take the worst one, spraining his right knee when Glen “Big Baby” Davis lowered his shoulder and crashed into him while going for a rebound in the second quarter. O’Neal lay in pain until he limped to the locker with the help of teammates.
O’Neal, who is scheduled to have an MRI exam, hopes to play in Game 7.
“Anything short of God coming back and rapture, anything short of that, I will play,” he said.
PACERS 95, HAWKS 88
ATLANTA — David West led Indiana on a 16-4 run to end the game, extending the season for the top-seeded Pacers with a victory over Atlanta.
Trailing 3-2 after losing at home for the second time in the Eastern Conference series, Indiana was poised for an early summer when the Hawks pushed out to an 84-79 lead with just over 3 minutes remaining, cheered on by a raucous crowd. But, for the fourth time in this back-and-forth affair, the road team won.
West seemed to make every big play down the stretch, scoring four straight points and forcing a huge turnover to begin the turnaround. West hit two more baskets in the final minute to wrap things up, finishing with 24 points.
Game 7 is Saturday in Indianapolis.
Paul George also scored 24 points for the Pacers, making four straight free throws to help finish off the Hawks, trying to become only the sixth No. 8 seed to knock off a No. 1 seed.
Jeff Teague scored 29 points for Atlanta.
THUNDER 104, GRIZZLIES 84
MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Kevin Durant scored 36 points to break out of a slump, and Oklahoma City routed Memphis to force a deciding seventh game in the first-round Western Conference series.
Russell Westbrook added 25 points for the Thunder, who haven’t been eliminated in the first round of the playoffs since 2010. They took control early with Durant scoring 14 points in the first quarter, led by 15 at halftime and never let Memphis get closer in the second half in the first game in the series ended in regulation since the opener.
Durant also had 10 rebounds and made 14 of 15 free throws.
Game 7 is Saturday night in Oklahoma City.
Marc Gasol had 17 points and Zach Randolph 16 for Memphis. Guard Mike Conley strained his right hamstring, briefly returned and left for good with 8:48 left.
By wire sources