Oakland, United States: Kawhi Leonard scored 30 points and the Toronto Raptors moved halfway to their first NBA title Wednesday by defeating the injury-hit Golden State Warriors 123-109 in the NBA Finals.
Kyle Lowry added 23 points and nine assists while Danny Green and Pascal Siakam each contributed 18 points as the Raptors seized a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series, which continues Friday in Oakland.
“Each game’s critical and the next one will be as critical as tonight’s was,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said. “I give our guys a lot of credit.”
Stephen Curry scored a career play-off high 47 points and added eight rebounds and seven assists for a defending champion Golden State squad playing without guard Klay Thompson due to a left hamstring strain and forward Kevin Durant with a right calf injury.
“Steph was unbelievable,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “He does things I don’t think anybody has done before. He’s amazing.”
Green started 6-of-8 from 3-point range, sparking a late third-quarter run that gave Toronto momentum for good.
“Danny’s buckets I think boosted our whole team’s confidence because we’re used to most of the year relying on those,” Nurse said.
Golden State fell behind by as many as 14 points in the first half and pulled no closer than seven in the second half despite staying within reach thanks to Curry’s one-man heroics.
“We answered a lot of runs, down to seven a bunch, and came back and scored a bucket or hit a three or whatever,” Nurse said. “Each time they chipped we answered back and that’s what you got to do if you’re going to keep your lead.”
The Warriors seek a third straight crown and their fourth in five seasons while the Raptors are in the first finals of their 24-season history.
“We’ve got to continue to work and play hard,” Lowry said. “The guys were on me to be aggressive and I did play more aggressive in this atmosphere. It meant a lot.”