HOUSTON — The Golden State Warriors still have plenty of work to do if they hope to win their third straight championship.

But after fending off the Houston Rockets on Friday night without its leading playoff scorer, Kevin Durant, to advance to the Western Conference finals, they did take a moment to celebrate the accomplishment.

“It shows you how much respect we have for Houston,” Coach Steve Kerr said. “We just finished the conference semifinals series. We’re only halfway home to where we want to be. And yet the celebration in there felt like a much bigger occasion and that’s because of the challenge that this team put before us.”

Stephen Curry scored all of his 33 points in the second half to lead the Warriors to a 118-113 victory.

Klay Thompson added 27 points to help Golden State reach the conference finals for a franchise-record 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 Game 5.

“We’re all very happy, but now we’ve got to get home and get some rest, and prepare for the next round,” Kerr said.


There won’t be a lot of time to recuperate with the conference finals starting Tuesday night in Oakland, California, against the winner of the Denver-Portland series.

Kerr said he’d give his team the weekend off after most of his key players logged heavy minutes in this series, in which each game was decided by six points or fewer.
Though this team has had plenty of big victories, Kerr said this win was special.

“It’s one of the most satisfying victories we’ve had during this run,” Kerr said.

TWO CONFERENCE semifinals will head to Game 7 on Sunday. Portland will be at Denver at 3:30 p.m. and Philadelphia at Toronto at 7.

LAKERS: A person familiar with the search said the team hired Frank Vogel as coach and Jason Kidd as an assistant.

Vogel, 45, didn’t coach last season following two years with Orlando. He arrived in Orlando following five-plus seasons leading the Indiana Pacers, including trips to the Eastern Conference finals in 2013 and ’14.

BUCKS: The team said it’s investigating a report by people who believe their drinks were spiked during a party outside the arena.

WISN-TV reported that a handful of partygoers stated on social media they became ill after drinking inside a tent on the Fiserv Forum plaza Wednesday night.

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