Basketball / NBA

Raptors hit big shots, beat Warriors for 2-1 series lead

AP

For every amazing shot in a career night by Stephen Curry on his home court, Kawhi Leonard, Kyle Lowry and Danny Green kept finding dazzling answers of their own.

The Toronto Raptors have the momentum again in these back-and-forth NBA Finals.

Leonard scored 30 points on a night Curry went off for a playoff-best 47, and the Raptors grabbed a pivotal finals road win by beating banged-up Golden State 123-109 on Wednesday night for a 2-1 series lead.

Curry also had 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.

“They outplayed us. They deserved it,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “I’m very proud of our effort, and now we just got to bounce back and hopefully get back here in here Friday night and hopefully get a little healthier and get some guys back.”

Splash Brother 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.

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 percent overall and made 17 from deep.

“I give our guys a lot of credit. I thought we answered a lot of runs,” Toronto coach Nick Nurse said. “Each time they chipped, we kind of answered back. And that’s kind of what you got to do if you’re going to keep your lead.”

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 the Raptors 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 visitors in Game 2.

Golden State greatly missed not only Thompson’s touch from outside but also his stifling defense.

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 beforehand.

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.

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 guard Patrick McCaw, who departed after last season in a contract dispute, drew boos from the crowd when he checked into the game late in the first.

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, while the rest of the Warriors were 1-for-11.

Draymond Green’s streak of double-doubles ended at a career-best six games after he had 17 points and seven rebounds. A 12th overall this postseason would match Denver’s Nikola Jokic for most in the 2019 playoffs.

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, 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, who was injured on Sunday,, 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.