Raptors hit big shots, beat Warriors for 2-1 NBA Finals lead
OAKLAND, Calif. — Kawhi Leonard, Danny Green and Kyle Lowry kept finding answers for every big shot by Stephen Curry and the beat-up Warriors, and the Toronto Raptors grabbed a pivotal road win in the NBA Finals by beating Golden State 123-109 on Wednesday night for a 2-1 series lead.
Curry scored a playoff career-best 47 points to go with eight rebounds and seven assists, but couldn’t do it all for the two-time defending champions, down starters Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson and key backup big man Kevon Looney because of injuries.
Leonard scored 30 points, Lowry contributed 23 with five 3-pointers and Green had 18 points with six 3s after Pascal Siakam got the Raptors rolling early as Toronto shot 52.4% and made 17 from deep.
Splash Thompson missed his first career playoff game after straining his left hamstring late in Game 2, while Looney is out the rest of the series after a cartilage fracture on his right side near the collarbone that also happened Sunday. Durant, a two-time reigning NBA Finals MVP, is still out because of a strained right calf.
Golden State hopes to get healthier by Game 4 on Friday night back at Oracle Arena.
The Warriors trailed 96-83 going into the final quarter then Curry’s three free throws at 10:37 made it a seven-point game before back-to-back baskets by Serge Ibaka.
Siakam scored 18 points and established the momentum for Toronto from the tip, hitting his first three shots and setting a tone for a defensive effort that stayed solid without the foul problems that plagued the Raptors in Game 2.
Golden State greatly missed not only Thompson’s touch from outside but also his stifling defense.
Raptors coach Nick Nurse challenged his team to produce more defensive stops in order to get out in transition — “make them miss more,” he said. Ibaka produced six blocked shots in the effort.
“We’re at a point in the series we’ve got to get out and guard these dudes,” Nurse said.
Curry shot 14 for 31 including 6 of 14 on 3s while making 13 of 14 free throws in his sixth career 40-point playoff performance.
Nurse pulled out a box-and-one to try to stymie Curry in Golden State’s 109-104 Game 2 win, then the Raptors made Curry’s short-handed supporting cast try to beat them this time — and it sure worked.
Raptors: All five Toronto starters scored in double digits and Fred VanVleet added 11 off the bench. … The Raptors began 10 for 14 and scored 12 early points in the paint. .. Former Warriors G Patrick McCaw, who departed after last season in contract dispute, drew boos from the crowd when he checked into the game late in the first.
Warriors: Curry’s 17 first-quarter points matched his most in the period for the postseason. He also did so on April 27, 2014, against the Clippers. … In the first half, Curry was 4 of 8 from 3-point range the rest of the Warriors 1 for 11. … Draymond Green’s streak of double-doubles ended at a career-best six games. A 12th overall this postseason would match Denver’s Nikola Jokic for most in the 2019 playoffs. … Tim Hardaway from the Warriors’ “Run TMC” era attended the game.
Durant went through extensive workouts both Tuesday and Wednesday at the practice facility with the hope he would do some scrimmaging Thursday. While the Warriors weren’t scheduled for a regular practice Thursday, coach Steve Kerr said some of the coaches and younger players might be called upon to give Durant the full-speed court work he still needs before being medically cleared to return.
He missed his eighth straight game since the injury May 8 in Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinals against the Rockets.
Thompson was hurt in Game 2 on Sunday and was to be evaluated by the training staff before tipoff. He didn’t end up warming up on the court.
Thompson did some running and shooting earlier in the day but Kerr said the Warriors weren’t going to play him “if there’s risk” of further damage at this stage of the series. Thompson is averaging 19.5 points, 4.0 rebounds and 2.1 assists this postseason, including 23.0 points through the first two finals games.
He will have another full day to recover before Game 4.
The home fans waited 20 days between home playoff games with the long layoff after the Western Conference finals sweep of Portland then Golden State opening the finals in Toronto.
It had been since Game 2 against the Trail Blazers on May 16 that the Warriors hosted — the second-longest lapse between home games since the current 16-game, four-round format was established in 1983.
The Warriors hosted a Game 3 in the finals for the first time since winning the 1975 title, having begun at home in each of the previous four.
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Amid hundreds of cleat-footed little leaguers casually gathered along the first baseline, the glare of parents’ sunglasses deflecting the early morning sun, coach Troy Phillips began a trip down memory lane.