TORONTO—The Toronto Raptors unravelled in the time it took plenty of stunned fans to file back into their seats with their halftime beers.
Eight straight missed shots and five turnovers. And just six minutes into the third quarter, the Raptors' double-digit lead had morphed into a 13-point hole too deep to dig out of.
Klay Thompson had 25 points, while Stephen Curry had 23 and the visiting Golden State Warriors beat Toronto 109-104 with a superb third quarter last night, sending the best-of-seven NBA Finals to Oakland, Calif., tied up at 1-1.
“I feel like our pace was good early, it was just that third quarter, I feel like it just really killed us—18-0 run, if we can't score no baskets, you're not going to win no game,” Raptors star Kawhi Leonard said.
Raptors coach Nick Nurse also lamented the lack of the offence during the ugly game-turning stretch.
“I'm going to have to rewatch that," he said. "I'm probably not going to enjoy it very much.”
Leonard had 34 points, shooting an NBA Finals record 17-for-17 from the free-throw line, and hauled down 14 rebounds to lead the Raptors. It was his 12th 30-point game of these playoffs.
Fred VanVleet had 17 points, while Kyle Lowry had 13 points before picking up his sixth foul and leaving the game with 3:52 to play.
Nurse had addressed the proliferation of post-season fouls in his pre-game press conference, saying “it's strange because it doesn't seem like you're ever in foul trouble in the regular season.”
The referees were an unfortunate storyline of Game 2 as Lowry found himself in foul trouble early and played just 27 minutes.
The quick whistles outraged Raptors fans. Referee Tony Brothers was trending on Twitter.
“Some of the things I don't necessarily agree with, but they're called,” Lowry said.
Pascal Siakam chipped in with 12 points as Toronto continued its first NBA Finals appearance in its 24-year history.
The Raptors led by as many as 12 points in the first half, but the Warriors are known for their superb third quarters. VanVleet finally ended Golden State's huge run—it was 20-0 going back to the second quarter—with a three-pointer with 6:20 remaining in the third.
“Missing every shot doesn't help, 10 possessions in a row we didn't score, I'm not even sure,” VanVleet said.
The Warriors led 88-80 with one quarter to play. Danny Green's three-pointer cut Golden State's lead to just four points with nine minutes to play, but the Warriors' offence, which had 34 assists on 38 made baskets on the night, was sizzling. Their defence was locked in. And almost nothing was falling for Toronto.
“We started to look like ourselves, and so at that point it just felt better . . . we ended up with 34 assists which is more like our team," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. "It was a great win, we get to go home and protect our home floor.”
An Andrew Bogut basket had Golden State up by 12 with 5:40 to play.
The Raptors then chipped away and three free throws from Leonard, one of them for a technical called on Curry for tossing the ball up in the air in anger, pulled Toronto to within five points with 1:08 to play.
Green drilled a three with 26 seconds to play, making it a two-point game and prompting a roar from the Scotiabank Arena crowd. But a wide-open Andre Iguodala replied with a three with 5.9 seconds left to put the Warriors back up by two possessions.
Asked whether the Raptors wanted the ball in Iguodala's hands versus Curry on that basket, he replied: “No. We wanted to see it in our hands. We wanted to get a steal.”
Nurse said the Raptors should have fouled before Iguodala's shot.
“(Iguodala) has hit a lot of big shots in the Finals before, so he was unfazed,” Kerr said.
Green's three at the buzzer bounced off the rim, ending the game.
Leonard joined an illustrious group with his scoring output. Other players who've had a dozen 30-point games in a single playoff run: Elgin Baylor, Kobe Bryant, Allen Iverson, LeBron James, Michael Jordan, Shaquille O'Neal, Hakeem Olajuwon, and Jerry West.
Baskets were at a premium in the game's early minutes, the two teams shooting a combined 5-for-19 before the first timeout.
The Raptors took a six-point lead on an alley-oop dunk from VanVleet to Siakam, but the Warriors promptly went on a 10-0 run to go up by four. Toronto led 27-26 to start the second.
Leonard converted a three-point play to stretch the Raptors' lead to 12 points with just over five minutes to play in the first half.
A couple of Curry free throws with four seconds left sliced the Raptors' advantage to 59-54 at halftime.
“We cut the lead to five and could kind of breathe at halftime," Kerr said. "I think our guys felt renewed life at that point.”
The Raptors won Thursday's series opener 118-109, riding the momentum of four straight victories over Milwaukee in the Eastern Conference final.
Games 3 and 4 are Wednesday and Friday in Oakland. Game 5 is Monday, June 10 in Toronto.
“We're in the same boat they were in coming here, we gotta go out there and get one," Nurse said. "That's all we gotta do—get one. We can do that.”