DeMarcus Cousins ‘on course’ to rejoin Warriors in West finals

NBC Sports Bay Area staff

The Warriors won another playoff series — and might have regained DeMarcus Cousins in the process.

The Golden State big man, who tore his left quad last month during the first-round series against the LA Clippers, could rejoin the Warriors’ roster during the Western Conference finals, the New York Times’ Marc Stein reported Friday night, citing league sources.

The key phrase in Stein’s Cousins report might be “if he maintains his recent progress.” Two days before the Warriors closed out their second-round series against the Houston Rockets, Cousins was spotted at the practice facility doing drills, lightly jogging and getting up shots. While it didn’t seemed like a return was imminent, it was progress nonetheless.

[RELATED: Boogie expects to return during the playoffs]

With the Portland Trail Blazers and Denver Nuggets lined up as possible Warriors Western Conference opponents, starting with Game 1 on Tuesday, the timing couldn’t be better. Cousins would be a nice counter to Nuggets star Nikola Jokic and the Blazers’ big man quartet of Jusuf Nurkic, Enes Kanter, Meyers Leonard and Zach Collins, especially during physical playoff games in which every possession and every rebound matters. As well as Kevon Looney played in Cousins’ stead against the Rockets, Boogie’s All-Star skill set cannot be matched by many centers in the league.

Add this news on top of the possibility that Kevin Durant could return from his right calf strain, and, as Stein noted, the Warriors quickly could be back at full strength. That would be bad news for the NBA and thrilling news in the Bay.

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L.A. Lakers hire Frank Vogel as head coach with Jason Kidd on staff

Sources: Vogel to coach Lakers with Kidd on staff

Adrian Wojnarowski | ESPN

Former Orlando Magic and Indiana Pacers coach Frank Vogel has agreed to a three-year deal to become the next head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers, league sources told ESPN, with Jason Kidd agreeing to join Vogel’s staff in a prominent assistant-coaching role.

Vogel’s hiring speaks to the significant influence of Lakers adviser Kurt Rambis and former coach Phil Jackson, whose opinions weigh heavily with owner Jeanie Buss. Vogel was the runner-up to Jeff Hornacek when Jackson hired a New York Knicks replacement for Derek Fisher in the summer of 2016.

Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka had spent the past few days gathering information from those who have worked with both Vogel and Kidd about how they believe those two could complement each other on a Lakers coaching staff, league sources said.

Under Vogel, the Lakers are unlikely to distinguish between a top assistant and the rest of the coaches. One Lakers source described it as “the Phil Jackson model” of assembling a staff.

Vogel, 45, flew to Los Angeles on Thursday and met with Pelinka and his front office and had detailed discussions on how Vogel would approach the possibility of taking over what has become a volatile situation.

‘He can’t coach LeBron’ – Stephen Jackson on Frank Vogel possibly getting Lakers job:

The Lakers have been under tremendous pressure to partner LeBron James with a suitable replacement to Luke Walton and to start to quell the turmoil that’s surrounding the organization.

Vogel knows James very well, with James having gone 30-15 against Vogel in his career, his third-most wins against a single head coach, including playoffs. Vogel has also been eliminated three times by a James-led team in the playoffs, tied for the most by any head coach.

The only head coach to face a James-led team more often in the playoffs than Vogel is Golden State’s Steve Kerr.

As much as Vogel has to be judged on a difficult two-season tenure with the Magic (2016-18) during which he won 29 and 25 games with a rebuilding team, he did build a strong reputation in his five full seasons with the Pacers, who advanced to the Eastern Conference finals during the 2012-13 and 2013-14 seasons.

Vogel went 250-181 while leading the Pacers, the second-most wins and second-highest win percentage (.580) by a head coach in franchise history

ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk, Ramona Shelburne and ESPN Stats & Information contributed to this report.

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KD, Magic, Lebron, D-Wade, & NBA Twitter blows up over Warriors’ elimination of Rockets from semis

Kevin Durant reacts to Warriors’ 118-113 Game 6 win over the Rockets

Ali Thanawalla | NBC SPORTS

The Warriors, without Kevin Durant, went into Houston on Friday night and beat the Rockets to close out their second-round NBA playoffs series.

And no one was happier than KD himself, who stayed back in the Bay Area to get treatment on his strained right calf.

After the Warriors won 118-113 in Game 6, Durant posted a photo of himself celebrating on Instagram.

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Way to close out #dubnation ?: @jedjacobsohn

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Durant will be re-evaluated next week, and it’s not clear if he’ll be ready for the start of the Western Conference finals on Tuesday.

“We still need KD back,” Draymond Green said as he walked back to the locker room after the win. “But we can get him back now.”

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Magic Johnson heaps praise on Warriors after Game 6 win over Rockets

Marcus White | NBC SPORTS

Magic Johnson quit his job for nights like Friday. Well, at least in part.

When he resigned as the Los Angeles Lakers’ president of basketball operations a month ago, Johnson told reporters that he felt constrained by NBA tampering regulations that — among other things — didn’t allow him to tweet.

“The fines and the tampering and the this and the that, I can’t help young men who want me to help them, or I can’t tweet out,” Johnson told reporters in LA last month. “Like Russell Westbrook, that [20-20-20 triple double] was a great feat the other day. I couldn’t even tweet it out to say, ‘Hey, congratulations.’ If I had did that, everyone would have said, ‘He’s tampering.’

“I don’t like that. I like to be free.”

Johnson was free Friday night, and he praised Stephen Curry’s dominant second half in the Warriors’ 118-113 winover the Houston Rockets. Curry scored 33 second-half points to eliminate the Rockets in Game 6 of the NBA playoff second-round series, but Johnson was impressed with Curry’s teammates, too.

Good, if obvious, points all around from one of the greatest players in NBA history. But Johnson, for his part, seems much happier tweeting than he did dealing with the Lakers’ dysfunction — some of which certainly is owed to the legendary point guard himself.

The Basketball Hall of Famer will have at least four more chances to tweet about the Warriors to his heart’s content this postseason. Thanks to Friday’s win, Golden State is headed to its fifth consecutive appearance in the Western Conference finals.

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Twitter reacts to Warriors’ stunning Game 6 win to eliminate Rockets

Jon Williams | NBC SPORTS

The “underdog” Warriors dug deep and eliminated the Rockets in Game 6 of their second-round NBA playoff matchup. They’ll advance to their fifth-straight Western Conference finals, joining the Lakers from the 1980s as the only teams to do so.

Steph Curry scored 33 points — all in the second half — to lead the Kevin Durant-less Warriors past Houston. 

Twitter predictably exploded about the outcome, both praising the Warriors and trolling the Rockets.

NBA stars LeBron James and Dwyane Wade both praised the championship spirit of the Warriors and Curry.

FOX Sports’ Colin Cowherd couldn’t believe the Warriors’ reserves kept the game close while Steph was struggling.

ESPN’s Michael Wilbon couldn’t believe he ever doubted the three-time champs.

Klay Thompson hit the biggest shot of the game — a 3-point dagger with less than a minute left — to extend the Warriors’ lead to six. The Athletic’s Anthony Slater noted Klay, who’s a free agent this summer, will assuredly cash in.

With the win in Houston, the Dubs extended their NBA-record streak to 21 consecutive playoff series with at least one road victory.

Emilia Clarke, the actress who plays Daenerys Targaryen in Game of Thrones, was in attendance. Craig Malamut, the co-creator of Bleacher Repot’s GOT spinoff “Game of Zones,” weighed in on Steph’s performance with a GOT twist.

Conversely, FOX Sports’ Nick Wright notes that the Warriors winning could have one potential negative side effect.

As for the Rockets, oh boy. The takes were flying. The Rockets have long been “obsessed” about beating the Warriors and Rockets center Clint Capela has openly said he wanted to play Golden State.

FOX Sports’ Skip Bayless couldn’t believe Houston blew it again.

And is it really a collapse if there isn’t a reference to the Jordan crying meme?

Enjoy this one, Warriors fans. That one was pretty sweet.

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NBA rumors: Kyrie Irving-Ty Lue relationship reason Lakers ended talks

Josh Schrock | NBC SPORTS

First things first: The Los Angeles Lakers are currently an unmitigated disaster.

Expected to try and challenge the Warriors in the Western Conference after landing LeBron James, the Purple and Gold bottomed out in the second half of the season, causing James to miss the playoffs for the first time since his second season in the NBA. Then, Magic Johnson abruptly quit as president of basketball operations. Head coach Luke Walton and the team agreed to part ways, allowing Walton to land the head coaching job with the Kings. 

The Warriors, all the while, continue their march to a third-straight NBA title. Things got tougher Wednesday, though, as the Dubs will be without Kevin Durant for the remainder of their second-round NBA playoff series with the Rockets after the two-time NBA Finals MVP suffered a right calf strain in Game 5.

Things are still much better in the Bay than L.A., obviously.

The Lakers appeared to have their next head coach all but locked up, but negotiations with former Cleveland Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue fell through reportedly due to contract demands and the Lakers’ desire for him to have Jason Kidd as an assistant coach on his staff.

But, what if there is another reason talks between Lue and the Lakers fell apart?

On the latest episode of “The Bill Simmons Podcast,” the Ringer CEO mentioned a rumor that he’s heard since Lue and the Lakers agreed to go their separate ways.

“The rumor mill is fantastic,” Simmons said during a conversation with longtime Celtics radio play-by-play announcer Sean Grande. “I don’t mind passing along various things I’ve heard, including, somebody told me that Ty Lue — the Lakers had to back out of the Ty Lue thing because Ty Lue and Kyrie, they couldn’t be together again and Kyrie’s going to go there and that’s why that fell through. Not because of the contract. I have no idea if that’s true or not but that’s going to be the next two months of my life.”

First of all, it should be noted that Simmons admits he doesn’t know if it’s true, but that’s the very definition of a rumor,

Now, whispers of Irving potentially joining the Lakers began after Irving told reporters he called James to apologize for the way he acted upon his exit from the Cavs. Those rumors have grown louder over the last few months.

With Irving and the Celtics being bounced from the second round of the playoffs by the Bucks on Wednesday, the speculation about his future will only intensify from here on out.

Irving, who is best friends with Durant, has been rumored to be a target of the Knicks as New York dreams of pairing the two stars together this offseason. But the Lakers could throw a huge wrench in the Knicks’ plans by swiping Irving once free agency begins.

It does seem highly unlikely that the Lakers are going about their head coaching search based on the thought that Irving wants to reunite with James. But we all know teams don’t wait until the season is over to start contacting potential free agents (even if they are supposed to), and with Irving and James’ relationship healed, perhaps it truly is a done deal. 

If Irving does choose to sign with the Lakers, that could impact the decision of Durant who many believe desires to play with his good friend next season. With no other superstar to pair up with in New York, would Durant leave the Dubs to play with Kevin Knox, Mitchell Robinson and potentially Zion Williamson? Seem unlikely.

Irving heading to Tinseltown could both make the Lakers more of a threat to the Warriors but also could allow the Dubs to convince Durant to stay. Real double-edged sword. 

Of course, the Lakers landing a star free agent is far from a guarantee. The legendary franchise has been run more like a carnival of late, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Lakers whiff in free agency and be left searching for a way to compete in the final years of James’ prime.

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Kevin Durant is out and now all of the pressure is on James Harden and the Rockets

Andy Nesbitt | USA TODAY SPORTS

Kevin Durant’s MRI results are in and he’s going to miss the rest of the Warriors-Rockets series with a mild right calf strain, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

This is relatively good news as the entire NBA world held its collective breath while fearing the worst when the injury happened late in the third quarter of Game 5. Just about everyone assumed it was an Achilles injury and that the NBA world had just been flipped upside down.

Now Durant could reportedly return at some point during the Western Conference Finals… if the Warriors, who are up 3-2 in the series, can get there.

While this injury means a lot to the Warriors and their future, it also means that all of the pressure now rests on the shoulders of James Harden, who disappeared in the fourth quarter of Game 5, Chris Paul and the rest of the Houston Rockets.

Because now they have no excuses. They have to get this done or it will be another glaring failure that will sting for quite some time, much like last year’s Game 7 against the Warriors when Houston missed 27 3-pointers in a row.

Game 6 is Friday night in Houston, a place where the Warriors just dropped two straight. A place that will be buzzing when Harden and Co. look to save their season. There’s every reason to believe that the Rockets will force a Game 7 which would be played on Sunday night.

But imagine if they don’t? Imagine if Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green go into Houston and show the heart that led this squad to a big win after Durant went down.

That would be more embarrassing for the Rockets than any Harden or Paul flop that we’ve ever seen.

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HOOP HANGOUT • NBA PLAYOFFS • GAMEDAY POST • May 10th 2019

SportsLine

Curry, short-handed Warriors knock out Rockets in Game 6

Associated Press

HOUSTON — Stephen Curry scored all 33 of his points in the second half and the Golden State Warriors overcame Kevin Durant‘s absence to finish off Houston in six games, beating the Rockets 118-113 on Friday night to advance to the Western Conference finals.

Klay Thompson added 27 points to help the two-time defending champion Golden State reach the conference finals for the fifth straight year and eliminate Houston for the fourth time in five seasons. The Warriors did it with Durant sidelined by a calf injury sustained in the second half of their Game 5 victory.

James Harden led Houston with 35 points, and Chris Paul added 27.

Harden’s layup got the Rockets within three with less than a minute to go, but Thompson made a 3-pointer with 36.1 seconds remaining to extend Golden State’s lead to 110-104.

Gerald Green then missed a 3 for Houston and the Rockets were forced to foul Curry. He made both shots before Harden’s 3 got Houston within five at 112-107 with 24 seconds left.

Playing with a dislocated finger on his left hand, Curry made two more free throws before P.J. Tucker hit a 3 for Houston. But two more free throws by Curry made it 116-110 with 12.3 seconds left and Harden dribbled it off his foot for the last of his six turnovers.

RELATED: Steph Curry’s dislocated finger still looks pretty jacked up

The Rockets failed to score for a big chunk of the fourth quarter and had to watch the Warriors celebrate a series victory on their home court for the second straight season after they won the conference finals in Houston last year. Harden was 11 of 25 from the field, going 6 of 15 from 3-point range, and went 7 of 12 on free throws.

Curry struggled early, failing to score in the first half for the first time in 102 career playoff games, and had just 10 points through three. But he got going in the fourth, scoring 23 points.

There were questions entering the game about how the Warriors would weather the loss of Durant — and his more than 34 points a game. But they didn’t seem to miss a beat, getting 21 from Thompson in the first half before Curry closed it in the fourth.

The Rockets had a five-point lead to start the fourth and it was tied at 95 with about 7 1/2 minutes to go after three points by Golden State’s Shaun Livingston.

Harden and Curry exchanged baskets soon after that before both teams failed to score for the next 2 1/2 minutes. Houston missed five shots in that stretch and the Warriors missed four before Kevon Looney made a layup to put Golden State on top 99-97 with just under four minutes left.

A 3-pointer by Curry gave the Warriors a five-point lead before Harden ended a scoring drought by the Rockets of almost four minutes with a 3-pointer to cut the lead to 102-100 with about 2 1/2 remaining.

Harden was called for a charge after that before Curry scored all of Golden State’s points in a 5-2 run that made it 107-102 with 90 seconds left.

TIP-INS

Warriors: Durant didn’t make the trip to Houston, remaining in the Bay Area to receive treatment for his injury. The Warriors said he’ll be re-evaluated next week. … The Warriors started Andrew Bogut for Durant and he had three rebounds and zero points. … C Damian Jones, who is out with a torn pectoral muscle, has been cleared for contact drills and could be available later in the playoffs if the Warriors advance. …

Rockets: Tucker had 15 points and has scored at least 10 points in eight of Houston’s last 11 games. … Clint Capela had with 10 points and 10 rebounds.

UP NEXT

The Warriors move on to face the Denver-Portland winner.

Is it time for Jeanie Buss to sell the Lakers to some people who actually know what the hell they are doing?

What would right the Lakers’ ship? The Buss family selling the team

Vincent Goodwill | Yahoo Sports

Perhaps Magic Johnson was trying to tell us something by getting out before the stink of a once-sterling franchise started to cloud his reputation.

Maybe he wanted to make his “sudden” resignation as public as possible to signal all the shenanigans happening inside the Staples Center, and if things are as bad as they appear, the Buss family should sell the team.

The basketball funk emanating from Los Angeles usually revolves around the red-headed stepchild Clippers, but for some reason, the Los Angeles Lakers feel compelled to try on the red nose and floppy wig for size.

The Lakers are burning goodwill at a rapid rate. What should have been a common-sense negotiation with Tyronn Lue turned into a painful ordeal that resulted in Lue pulling out of talks to become the franchise’s next head coach.

Team owner Jeanie Buss has been given the benefit of the doubt at every level — there was public clamor for her to save the Lakers from her brother, Jim, after years of misdirection and outdated management.

But there wasn’t much known about her aside from her business sense, her ability to charm the public, and her relationship with Phil Jackson.

The Lakers always felt like her No. 1 priority, but now she seems too preoccupied with pleasing those who haven’t put in the sweat equity of building the proud brand — a brand that requires the deftness of building both an entertaining product and a winning one.

The Lakers have failed at both for a large part of this decade.

They aren’t owned by some corporate entity, or some group looking for fame from courtside seats and TV cutaways. The Buss family and the Lakers are one and the same, and there was comfort in knowing the fans’ interests and the family’s wants were aligned.

But the favored daughter of the late Dr. Jerry Buss seems clueless in how to lead, and the reports of close confidants Linda and Kurt Rambis having so much influence are troubling.

Make no mistake: This is a mess of massive proportions, and headed into free agency, it’s the worst possible look for a franchise trying to attract star free agents and resemble a model, stable organization.

How many factions are inside Staples Center, angling for power and influence? Who knows what could happen with the Golden State Warriors this offseason? The Lakers’ opportunity to return to prominence is being wasted by the day, while the Clippers are looking like a model of consistency and professionalism.

Chris Broussard: ‘The Lakers Are The Worst Run Organization In The League… The sky is falling for LeBron James…”

This all feels like “The Twilight Zone” — but this episode has no end in sight.

The recent developments reek of a franchise unable to accept the terms of having a superstar like LeBron James, even at this advanced stage of his career, and doing what’s necessary to give him the best chance to win.

Offering an accomplished coach like Lue — one of five active or recently active coaches with a championship on his résumé — a three-year deal feels like micromanagement at best, disrespect at worst. Like it or not, five-year deals are standard in the topsy-turvy world of coaching. Whether the coach lives to see the end of the deal is immaterial — that’s the going rate.

‘Disrespectful’ and ‘pitiful’ – Chauncey Billups on Lakers’ treatment of Tyronn Lue..

And what’s worse, asking Lue to take on Rambis as an assistant, a no-no according to sources close to Lue, feels like the Lakers want their walls bugged and feared a LeBron takeover — as if Lue would allow himself to be used as a puppet.

Would that type of deal had been offered if they were trying to lure Brad Stevens from Boston, or Doc Rivers from inside their own building? Or was it the specter of James — the fear of having the outside world believe the most influential player of his time was running things — that caused them to put together such an insincere offer?

It’s no secret what having James in the building brings: Yes, he can be exhausting and pushy, passive-aggressive with his influence and immediate with his wants, but what else comes with that? Winning, even if he’s 90 percent of the player who has been a June fixture this decade.

Stephen A. — Time for LeBron to give the Lakers an ultimatum…

That month is apparently long forgotten to the Lakers. The last time they played in June, James was a year from starting his streak of eight straight NBA Finals. There’s a responsibility that comes with absorbing a talent like James, one the Lakers seemed eager to accept.

And there’s the greater responsibility of having stewardship of the Lakers’ brand, a franchise synonymous with winning, excellence and stars. When fans think of the glitz and glamour of the NBA, they think of the Lakers. They’ve endured from Showtime to the Lake Show to Shaq and Kobe, all in the modern basketball era.

It’s had its share of drama and dysfunction, but usually the notion of winning trumped all.

Now the Lakers appear ill-equipped to handle the undertaking and even seem a bit petty with the recent developments.

Why act small-time now? This is the same franchise that gave Kobe Bryant a two-year golden parachute to finish his career when it was clear his body could no longer produce superstar moments. While admirable, from an employee-employer relationship, the Lakers punted on competing for those two years.

Some have brought up the extreme: The Lakers trading James to a sane environment to play out his remaining years.

But given the dysfunction, the Buss family should go further: Sell the family business altogether.

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Silver wants half of new NBA refs to be women

WASHINGTON — NBA commissioner Adam Silver wants half of all new referees joining the league to be women — and he would like to see teams hire female coaches, too.

In an appearance Thursday for The Economic Club of Washington, D.C., Silver said two of the past five refs added from the developmental G League were women, bringing the total number of female officials to three.

“It’s an area, frankly, where I’ve acknowledged that I’m not sure how it was that it remained so male-dominated for so long. Because it’s an area of the game where physically, certainly, there’s no benefit to being a man, as opposed to a woman, when it comes to refereeing,” Silver said.

“The goal is: Going forward, it should be roughly 50-50 of new officials entering in the league. Same for coaches, by the way. We have a program, too. There’s no reason why women shouldn’t be coaching men’s basketball.”

Becky Hammon of the San Antonio Spurs was the NBA’s first full-time female assistant. Commissioner Adam Silver says “there’s no reason why women shouldn’t be coaching men’s basketball.” Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

There has never been a female head coach in the NBA.

Becky Hammon of the San Antonio Spurs was the league’s first full-time female assistant. Kristi Toliver worked as an assistant coach for the Washington Wizards this season; she also still plays for the WNBA’s Mystics in the same city.

In December, the Indiana Pacers made Kelly Krauskopf the first woman to hold the title of assistant general manager in the NBA.

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Mychal Thompson responds to report about Klay being unhappy on Warriors

Drew Shiller | NBC SPORTS

Klay Thompson delivered on Wednesday night in the Warriors’ Game 5 win over the Rockets at Oracle Arena.

The five-time All-Star scored a team-best 27 points and went 11-for-20 from the field as the Dubs took a three-games-to-two series lead in the second round of the NBA playoffs.

On Thursday afternoon, his father, Mychal, was a guest on 95.7 The Game and was asked about the recent conflicting reports about Klay’s feelings about Golden State.

“He’s happy where he is,” Mychal said. “If you’re already living in the best house in the neighborhood, why would you move? I don’t know why this narrative keeps coming up. I guess it’s all speculative and it’s part of the business — wondering where all these free agents are gonna end up signing.

“I guess it just comes with the territory. But as far as he’s concerned, he’s quite content working for the company he’s already working for.”

Klay struggled in the Dubs’ Game 4 loss in Houston on Monday night, scoring just 11 points and making 5 of 15 shots.

The following morning on ESPN’s show First Take, Stephen A. Smith said the following:

“I’m not speaking about opinion here. I got this from a few people. I’m told Klay Thompson — I have not spoken to Klay in fairness to Klay, let me be clear about that — I’m told Klay isn’t happy — his number hasn’t been called nearly enough.

“He’s tired of sitting around and getting, this is a quote, the ‘crumbs’ left behind by other people.”

Late Wednesday night, Klay was asked about Smith’s comments.

“That’s not true,” he told Mark Medina of the Bay Area News Group. “Have I ever indicated I was unhappy?”

And Mychal relayed one more message as well:

“Unless you guys here from Klay himself, just dismiss everything else,” he advised.

Duly noted.

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Kevin Durant MRI: mild calf strain, will be re-evaluated in a week; miss rest of Rockets series

Josh Schrock | NBC SPORTS

The expected has reportedly become a reality.

After Kevin Durant left the Warriors’ Game 5 win over the Houston Rockets with a right calf injury, most doubted the two-time NBA Finals MVP’s ability to return for Friday’s Game 6.

SEE RELATED: Warriors’ Kevin Durant leaves Game 5 vs. Rockets with right calf strain

Head coach Steve Kerr told The Athletic’s Tim Kawakami on Wednesday night that Durant would not play in Game 6.

“He’s not going to play Game 6,” Kerr told Kawakami. “We can all pretend and just say he’s doubtful. But he’s not playing Game 6

Durant went for an MRI on Thursday and reportedly has suffered a mild calf strain, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. He could possibly return for the Western Conference finals should the Dubs advance. 

The Warriors currently hold a 3-2 series lead over James Harden and Co., but not will be tasked with closing out the series without their best player.

With Steph Curry also banged up and DeMarcus Cousins out with a quad injury, it will take all the Warriors have to brush the Rockets aside and move on to the Western Conference finals.

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