TORONTO — Kevin Durant did everything in his power to prove his competitive desire and dedication to the Warriors by returning to start Game 5 of the NBA Finals on Monday night at Scotiabank Arena after missing more than a month with a right calf injury. But that ill-fated decision led to what was diagnosed as an Achilles tendon injury that conceivably might cost him, the NBA’s leading free-agent target, all of next season and the riches that would have come with it.
The Warriors went on to pull out a 106-105 victory to extend the series to Game 6 on Thursday night in Oakland, but Warriors general manager Bob Myers was in tears when he addressed the media. Myers said the extent of the injury is uncertain until Durant’s MRI examination on Tuesday.
The Warriors also lost backup center Kevon Looney, who reinjured his fractured collarbone in a third-quarter fall and has been declared out for the rest of the NBA Finals.
Speaking of Durant’s injury, Myers said: “He was cleared to play tonight. That was a collaborative decision. I don’t believe there’s anybody to blame, [but] if you have to, you can blame me.
“Kevin Durant loves to play basketball, and the people that questioned whether he wanted to get back to this team were wrong. He’s one of the most misunderstood people. He’s a good teammate, he’s a good person. It’s not fair. I don’t have all the information on the extent of what it all means until we get an MRI, but the people that worked with him and cleared him are good people.”
After scoring 11 points in the first quarter, Durant tried to change direction in a scramble for a loose ball and crumpled to the floor in pain with 9:46 left in the second quarter. He immediately reached for his lower right leg near his Achilles tendon where he suffered the original injury in a second-round game against the Rockets on May 8.
Medical personnel assisted him to the locker room. Durant left the arena on crutches and in a walking boot on his right foot.
Initially, fans in the arena erupted in cheers when it became obvious Durant could not continue, but several Raptors tried to quiet the crowd. By the time Durant left the court, the fans were chanting, “KD! KD!”
“The Raptors players were telling the crowd to be quiet, out of respect, which I appreciated,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “Some of the fans were cheering when it happened, and I think the Raptors’ players understood how serious it was.
“There was just a couple minutes where it all seemed so eerie and strange, and it took maybe a little bit for both teams to collect themselves.”
The series heads back to Oakland for Game 6 on Thursday with Toronto leading 3-2.Warriors stay alive in NBA Finals with Game 5 victory
The Raptors still lead the series 3-2, but the Warriors have lost Durant, prompting Steve Kerr to say: 'An incredible win and a horrible loss.'