Lake Buena Vista, Florida – No need for any big shots this time. Not the way the Toronto Raptors just kept getting stops.
Pascal Siakam had 23 points and 11 rebounds, Kyle Lowry added 22 points and 11 boards and the Raptors evened the Eastern Conference semifinal at two games apiece, beating the Boston Celtics 100-93 on Saturday.
Two days after winning Game 3 on OG Anunoby’s 3-pointer as time expired, the Raptors shut down most of Boston’s perimeter shooters and Jaylen Brown in particular.
Serge Ibaka had 18 points off the bench on 7-of-9 shooting and Fred VanVleet finished with 17 points, six rebounds and six assists. The Raptors shot only 39.5 percent but believe they'll eventually put their offense and defense together on the same night.
"I think we can always get to another level. I feel like we can always do that and obviously everyone clicking at the right time, and once we have that we’re a pretty special team,” Siakam said.
Jayson Tatum had 24 points and 10 rebounds for the Celtics. They won their first six postseason games before dropping the last two. Kemba Walker had 15 points and eight assists.
"Obviously, we didn’t play that well, I didn’t play that well,” Brown said. "We've got to bounce back and be ready to fight. That’s what it comes down to.”
The Celtics were 7 for 35 (20 percent) from 3-point range. Brown missed his first nine attempts behind the arc and finished 2 for 11, and 4 for 18 overall. Tatum, Walker and Marcus Smart were all 1 for 6 on 3-pointers.
"I think we made it a little bit tougher for them tonight but they still had a lot of shots that they were able to get off,” Lowry said. "We’re just trying to contain those guys: Tatum, Brown, Walker even Smart. We’ve just got to continue to make it tough on those guys.”
The Raptors got their own shooting untracked late in the third quarter to open the first sizable lead by either team and Boston couldn't hit nearly enough shots to put much of a dent in it.
The Celtics were a half-second from taking a 3-0 lead, from which no NBA team has recovered, after Daniel Theis' basket gave them a two-point lead Thursday. But Anunoby's 3 got the defending NBA champions, who overcame a 2-0 deficit in the Eastern Conference finals, on the way to what they hope will be a similar recovery.
Coach Nick Nurse assumed the Raptors would quickly refocus after the euphoria of that victory, recalling how well they played on short rest after Kawhi Leonard's series-winning shot to beat Philadelphia in Game 7 of the second round before falling in Game 1 at Milwaukee.
He was right, as Lowry sent them to a quick 11-4 lead with eight points. He scored 11 points in the first quarter, which ended with Toronto leading 31-27. There were five ties in the second quarter, including when VanVleet's 3-pointer with 0.9 seconds to go made it 49-all.
After some cold perimeter shooting by both teams, the Raptors finally had a strong stretch late in the third, getting two 3-pointers by VanVleet and another by Ibaka in a little over a minute to open their largest lead at 79-68. Toronto led by eight after three.
The Celtics never got closer than five in the final quarter and when they did for the final time, Tatum was called for an offensive foul with 32 seconds left.
Walker took only nine shots, a number he said was unacceptable on his behalf.
"We've just got to be better. We've got to be tougher. We've got to want it more,” Walker said.
Nuggets 110, Clippers 101
Jamal Murray scored 27 points, Nikola Jokic had 26 points and 18 rebounds and Denver never trailed on the way to beating Los Angeles in Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinal series.
Gary Harris and Paul Millsap each added 13 points to help Denver knot the series at a game apiece.
Paul George scored 22 points for the Clippers, who got 15 from Ivica Zubac and endured a rare off night offensively from Kawhi Leonard. The two-time NBA Finals MVP had 13 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists, but shot only 4 for 17.
Leonard had scored at least 20 points in 27 of his last 28 playoff games — and had at least 29 in all seven playoff games this season. The Clippers trailed by 23 and got as close as five in the fourth quarter, but no closer.