TORONTO -- An incredible way to win. An agonizing way to have a season end.
Kawhi Leonard bounced, bounced, bounced, bounced Philadelphia out of the playoffs.
The Raptors beat the 76ers, 92-90, in Game 7 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series Sunday when Leonard hit a shot from the corner at the buzzer that bounced off the rim four times before going in. It was the first winning buzzer-beater in a Game 7 in NBA history.
After Philadelphia’s Jimmy Butler tied it with a driving layup with 4.2 seconds left, Toronto used its final timeout to draw up a play for Leonard, who dribbled toward the right corner and launched the high-arching shot over Joel Embiid with three-tenths of a second left. With the backboard lit up and the game clock reading all zeros, the ball bounced high off the right side of the rim, took a smaller bounce off the right side, then hit the left side twice before falling through the net.
“It was great,” said Leonard, who scored 41 points. “That’s something I never experienced before, Game 7, a game-winning shot. It was a blessing to be able to get to that point and make that shot and feel that moment.”
“He was awesome at both ends,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said. “That’s his uniqueness. Not only can he get you 30 and anywhere upwards from that, but there’s moments when he can just decide you’re not scoring, either.”
The Raptors ran a similar play for Leonard during the first round against Orlando. That time he caught the ball and shot without dribbling. “Remembering that moment, I knew I had some time to try to get some space rather than just catch and shoot the ball,” Leonard said. “I ended up finding a spot that I like, that I work on. I just knew I had to shoot it high.”
Afterward, Embiid was in tears. Raptors center Marc Gasol hugged him and offered words of consolation into his ear.
The Raptors, who will face the Bucks next, advanced to the conference finals for the second time in four seasons.
Leonard shot 16-for-39. Serge Ibaka added 17 points and Pascal Siakam had 11 points and 11 rebounds.
Embiid led the 76ers with 21 points and 11 rebounds. JJ Redick had 17 points, Butler added 16 and Tobias Harris had 14 points and 10 rebounds.