Warriors edge Raptors 106-105, cutting Toronto's series lead to 3-2
TORONTO -- Kyle Lowry took aim and released the ball as the clock's final seconds ticked down.
But Draymond Green's outstretched hand guaranteed there would be no buzzer-beating heroics by the Raptors. And no NBA championship for Toronto and Canada. At least not on this night.
"It felt great out of my hands," Lowry said on the last-second shot that bounced agonizingly off the side of the backboard.
"He got a piece of it. That's what great defenders do."
Stephen Curry had 31 points while Klay Thompson finished with 26, and the visiting Golden State Warriors held on to beat Toronto 106-105 to slice the Raptors' lead in the NBA Finals to 3-2.
Now the best-of-seven series heads back to Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif., for Game 6 on Thursday.
Kawhi Leonard had 12 of his 26 points in the fourth quarter as the Raptors mounted a comeback from a 14-point third-quarter deficit, but it wasn't enough to lift Toronto past the Splash Brothers as Curry and Thompson both had big three-pointers down the stretch.
The Warriors' 20 three-pointers on the night, including three in the final 2:32, were a franchise record for threes allowed by Toronto.
"They got off way too many," Lowry said. "For guys like them, they're going to make them . . . you give them that many threes, they're going to make them."
Six Raptors scored in double figures: Lowry had 18 points, Marc Gasol had 17, Serge Ibaka finished with 15, Pascal Siakam chipped in with 12, and Fred VanVleet finished with 11.
In uncharted territory in their Finals debut, the Raptors are looking to capture the first championship for a Canadian franchise in one of North America's four major sports leagues -- NBA, NHL, NFL and MLB -- since the 1993 Toronto Blue Jays won the World Series. And they're carrying the pride and dreams of a country along with them.
Was this loss a blow to the Toronto's confidence?
Not according to coach Nick Nurse. He's seen them bounce back plenty.
"Our team has reacted all year long great to bad losses. It takes a lot to beat this team," Nurse said.
The Warriors weren't in the mood for celebrating either. On a night Golden State coach Steve Kerr called both "an incredible win and a horrible loss," Kevin Durant suffered an Achilles injury with 9:46 to play in the second quarter. Making his Finals debut after injuring his calf in the West semifinals, the 10-time all-star had 11 points in 12 minutes, but his injury cast a pall on the evening.
"I just told the team I didn't know what to say because on the one hand I'm so proud of them -- just amazing heart and grit they showed. On the other, I'm just devastated for Kevin. It's a bizarre feeling we all have right now," Kerr said.
Toronto trailed for most of the night, never leading by more than two points in the first half before falling behind by 14 in the third quarter. The Warriors led 84-78 with one quarter to play.
A Leonard three-pointer gave Toronto its first lead since the first quarter with 5:13 to play. He contributed 10 points of Toronto's 12-2 run that put Toronto up 103-97 with 3:28 to play.
However, Thompson and Curry combined for three straight threes to put the visitors back up by three with 57 seconds to play. And then with the nervous crowd on its feet, the Raptors pulled to within a point with 30 seconds to play after a Warriors goaltending call on a Lowry basket.
The Warriors were then called for an offensive foul, giving Toronto the ball. Lowry's miss was met by a groan from the 20,144 fans in attendance.
"I got the ball at the top of the key, and the double team, and swing, swing . . . just didn't get (the shot) off quick enough," Leonard said of Lowry's miss.
The Raptors opened their historic playoff run with a loss to Orlando before dispatching the Magic in five games. It took a Leonard buzzer-beater -- and a wonderfully improbable four bounces off the rim before the ball fell through the hoop -- to top Philadelphia in seven games. The Raptors trailed 2-0 to Milwaukee in the Eastern Conference final, before neutralizing Giannis Antetokounmpo and beating the Bucks in six.
Gasol said if there was a message in the Raptors locker-room, it's that they've bounced back before.
"We've done it all playoffs long," Gasol said. "We're going to continue to battle. We're going to continue to fight no matter the score. We've got to do a better job of communicating defensively at the end."
Since acquiring Leonard for DeMar DeRozan last summer, the team's lofty goal has been an NBA title. The mantra has been to remain even-keeled throughout -- never too high, never too low. Leonard has been their Zen master.
Game 5 was more of the same. While hundreds of thousands of nervous fans gathered for viewing parties from coast to coast, the Raptors have remained locked in.
"These games are tough, and we realize how hard we have to play, and we have really tried again to make it a focus," Nurse said in his pre-game availability.
When the Raptors dropped Game 2 of the Finals at home, Nurse told his team in the locker-room: "All we got to do is go get one (at Oakland)."
"Kawhi said 'Expletive that, let's go get them both,"' Nurse said.
They just need one win now at Oracle for the title. The series would return to Toronto for a Game 7, if needed, on Sunday.
The Raptors were cheered on by a star-studded crowd that included hockey star Wayne Gretzky, French soccer star Thierry Henry, former Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista, Sir Richard Branson, and actor Eugene Levy.
Drake, dressed in a plain black T-shirt, sang along with the Scotiabank Arena crowd, his head swaying, eyes squeezed shut, in a spirited rendition of "O Canada," kick-started by opera singer Doug Tranquada. American singer Monica, who sang the 1998 hit "The Boy is Mine" with Brandy, performed the U.S. anthem.
Kerr had been hopeful Durant's return would impact the game, saying before tipoff: "Even without having played, he's still such a huge threat and he can get his shot off against anybody and we'll see."
The two-time Finals MVP, and the league's most valuable in 2014 made his presence felt immediately, scoring back-to-back three-pointers in the first two-and-a-half minutes. The Warriors made their first five threes, but the Raptors replied with an 11-2 run to take a brief two-point lead. The Warriors led 34-28 heading into the second.
The Warriors were leading 39-34 when Durant went down when he planted his right foot. Fans initially cheered before Lowry, Ibaka and Danny Green waved their arms to quiet them. They chanted "K-D!" as Durant was helped to the locker-room.
DeMarcus Cousins had seven points in the next minute, his three-pointer putting Golden State up by 11. The Warriors would go up by 13 but the Raptors finished the second quarter with a 15-5 run and they went into the halftime break trailing Golden State 57-54.