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”By the time he gave up the double, he was pushing 40 pitche

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After a Game 3 flop in New Orleans Dalton Schultz Color Rush Jersey , similar to that lone first-round loss against San Antonio last month, coach Steve Kerr provided a quick reminder to the Golden State Warriors:

It’s not supposed to be easy at this stage – especially for the defending champions.

There’s no way this postseason can go as brilliantly as the last one. That remarkable, record-setting 16-1 run to the title, well, it’s not going to happen often, or maybe ever again.

”I told our team actually after Game 3 the day we practiced, I said, `What we did last year was the first time and only time anybody has ever accomplished that in the playoffs, gone 16-1,” Kerr said. ”I know the Lakers went 15-1, they had a similar kind of joy ride where very little adversity, but that’s the extreme exception. Year after year, the NBA champion has to go through so much to get there. And that’s why you pour champagne on each other, because it’s really hard, and it’s supposed to be hard. The fact that it is so difficult brings out the best in you because you have to be on edge and on guard.”

Now comes the next and most daunting test in this quest for a repeat.

The Warriors eliminated the Pelicans with a 113-104 win Tuesday night and are on to the Western Conference finals to face the top-seeded Houston Rockets http://www.eaglesauthorizedshops.com/authentic-paul-worrilow-jersey , who closed out the Jazz earlier Tuesday in their own Game 5. This is the matchup so many have looked to for months.

”You can’t believe the hype,” Klay Thompson guarded before the Warriors played. ”Everybody is already talking about Warriors-Rockets.”

And for good reason. It might just have a Finals feel with so much talent and scoring on both teams.

”I think it will be very entertaining,” Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said.

Golden State has succeeded playing big and small. It has pushed the pace and dealt with San Antonio slowing things way down. The Warriors have endured a couple of blips this time around, and that hasn’t necessarily been a bad thing.

”Every series you play gets harder and harder and harder,” Stephen Curry said, referencing Kerr’s remarks about how hard it is.

Kerr didn’t have to say anything to his players on the urgency of closing out the Pelicans in Game 5 at Oracle Arena, where the Warriors won a franchise-record 15th straight home playoff game to match the Bulls’ NBA record.

”I dial people on my rotary phone. Nobody seems to answer, though,” Kerr quipped. ”Nobody answers a home phone anymore. No texts necessary.”

Curry has his swagger and stroke back now that he has played four games following nearly six weeks on the sidelines with a sprained left knee. He played 37 minutes in the clincher and the entire fourth quarter.

When Gentry was asked about the Warriors’ ”Hamptons Five” starting lineup of Curry, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala and Thompson – all of the guys who were together working on Durant signing with Golden State in July 2016 – he had some fun.

”You can call them any kind of five, they’re really good,” Gentry said. ”You can call them the Jackson Five. … They’ve got 2 1/2 Michaels.”

Yet there was a stretch late in the regular season when Kerr wasn’t sure the Warriors would bounce back defensively and return to their dominant form. Scoring has never been a problem.

”Our defense was so bad in Indiana and in Utah, there was absolutely a part of me that thought http://www.coltsauthorizedshops.com/authentic-nyheim-hines-jersey , `I don’t know if we can get our defense together, I know we’ll get our offense together,”’ Kerr said. ”Defense requires a mentality and a spirit and a unity and sense of purpose from the five guys on the floor. We were just a shell of ourselves that last week.”

The Warriors weren’t playing for anything then, assured of the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference. They have learned over recent seasons how to elevate the level when the playoffs arrive.

So far, instead, the Warriors have found a way to defend both styles, preferring to run with the fast-paced, push-the-tempo Pelicans while dealing with daunting big man Anthony Davis and the imposing load he is in the middle.

”This group is very smart and versatile and the key is the effort that they bring. I think inevitably, you see it in every series, if you handle your business early there’s going to be a natural letdown,” Kerr said. ”When the letdown happens, how do you respond? That’s what I always look for, and that’s what was very satisfying with (Game 4). We didn’t bring the necessary force in Game 3, we were threatened on the road, and our guys brought it and set a tone early http://www.jaguarsauthorizedshops.com/authentic-ronnie-harrison-jersey , and that’s the mark of a great team.”

When the stakes got bigger, Green delivered – leading the way with his intensity on both ends and becoming the first Warriors player to average a triple-double in a playoff series. He also had two key baskets in the closing minutes.

”We love his intensity, and when it’s channeled in productive plays, whether it’s stuff that doesn’t show up in the stats sheet, or if it does we really rely on that,” Curry said. ”He’s been playing amazing this whole playoff run, taking the challenge defensively whoever he is guarding, being an officiator on offense, knocking down shots.”

Long after the Detroit Tigers broke the game open, JaCoby Jones made the play of the day.

Maybe even the play of the year in the Comerica Park outfield.

Jones’ twisting, backhanded catch in the sixth inning took a home run away from Adrian Beltre in Detroit’s 7-2 victory over the Texas Rangers on Saturday.

The Tigers scored all their runs in the first, chasing Cole Hamels before that inning was over. It was still 7-0 when Jones made his spectacular catch in left-center field.

Beltre’s drive was headed toward the Texas bullpen, but Jones came over from center and jumped, reaching over the wall with his left hand and backhanding the ball. Jones’ momentum spun him around a bit, and he fell forward onto the ground Braden Smith Color Rush Jersey , holding on for the out.

”You have to time it,” Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire said. ”As you saw, his whole arm went over the fence, and he snagged it behind. It’s a timing thing, and you have to be athletic to be able to do some of those things.”

Jones did not stay in the clubhouse to talk to reporters afterward.

Hamels (4-8) retired only two batters for the Rangers in his shortest start since 2010.

Mike Fiers (6-5) allowed a run and five hits in six innings. He struck out six with one walk.

Rougned Odor hit a solo homer for Texas immediately after Beltre was robbed by Jones. Shin-Soo Choo doubled twice for the Rangers to extend his on-base streak to 46 games, tying Julio Franco’s club record set in 1993.

Niko Goodrum had four hits for the Tigers.

Nicholas Castellanos opened the scoring with a solo homer with one out in the first. John Hicks added an RBI single, and Jose Iglesias hit an infield single with two outs and the bases loaded to make it 3-0.

Hamels still would have made it out of the inning, but center fielder Delino DeShields misplayed a line drive by Jones for an error , allowing three more runs to score.

”It just knuckled on me,” DeShields said. ”I was trying to stay with it, but it swerved on me at the last second. It’s frustrating, because you are doing everything you can to make the play, but he hit it right on the screws and right at me, and that’s when a ball will take off on you.”

Mikie Mahtook followed with an RBI double, and Hamels was replaced after allowing five hits http://www.dolphinsauthorizedshops.com/authentic-josh-sitton-jersey , two walks and three earned runs. He threw 41 pitches.


It was the shortest start for Hamels since June 1, 2010, when he also lasted two-thirds of an inning for Philadelphia at Atlanta. That start was shortened because of a rain delay.

Hamels had gone at least five innings in each of his first 17 starts this year.

”By the time he gave up the double, he was pushing 40 pitches, and that’s my limit,” Texas manager Jeff Banister said. ”Once you get to 40 in one inning, you are pitching fatigued, and it is too much of a risk to leave him out there. I’m not going to do that to one of my pitchers.”


Goodrum had his second four-hit game in a week. He also went 4 for 4 at Toronto on July 1.

He’s hitting .464 (13 for 28) over his last seven games.

”I didn’t know that,” he said. ”The only stats I can see is what they show on the board of everyone.”


Rangers: SS Elvis Andrus appeared to foul a pitch off his left leg in the fifth but remained in the game. He was taken out in the eighth.


Michael Fulmer (3-7) takes the mound for Detroit against Austin Bibens-Dirkx (1-2) in the series finale Sunday.


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