TORONTO – The Raptors were on history’s doorstep after Kawhi Leonard scored 10 straight fourth-quarter points to give them a six-point lead over the Warriors with barely three minutes to go in Game 5 of the NBA Finals on Monday night at Scotiabank Arena. But instead of celebrating Canada’s first NBA title, they dropped a 106-105 decision to the Warriors that sent them back to Oakland for Game 6 clinging to a 3-2 series lead.
When play resumes Thursday night, they will be facing an emotionally charged Warriors team trying to rebound from the loss of Kevin Durant, who suffered an Achilles injury, as well as Kevon Looney, who reinjured his fractured collarbone.
Asked if those losses make the Warriors less or more dangerous, Leonard simply said, “Dangerous. Obviously, KD makes them a different team. They have been here before. I’m just focusing on our team and what we’ve got to do next game, but they played great tonight in the last three quarters after KD exited.”
The Raptors’ offense suddenly went cold when coach Nick Nurse used a pair of timeouts with 3:05 left in the game and his team on a 12-2 run to take a 103-97 lead. “We had two free [timeouts] that you lose under the three-minute mark, and we just decided to give those guys a rest,” Nurse said. “Just thought we could use the extra energy push.”
Leonard airballed a fadeaway coming out of the timeout, and Klay Thompson hit a three-pointer that began a 9-0 Warriors run that included a three by Steph Curry and another by Thompson for a 106-103 lead with 57.6 seconds left. The Warriors hit 20 threes in the game, including 12 by Thompson and Curry on 27 attempts.
“I think the fact that Steph and Klay were able to get off 14 and 13 threes is too many,” Raptors guard Kyle Lowry said. “You give them that many threes, they’re going to make some. We let them get too many threes off.”
The Raptors expressed their sympathy for Durant, and Lowry was among those who quieted the crowd when many fans cheered the injury at first. “It’s a small brotherhood, and you never want to see a competitor like him go down,” Lowry said.
Leonard said the Raptors will try to match the Warriors' “emotion and drive” in Game 6, but in the meantime, he’s pulling for Durant. “I hope he’s keeping his spirits up,” Leonard said. “I know he’s going to get through it. He wants to come back and be a great player, Hall of Fame player . . . I pray for him, and I hope he has a Godspeed recovery.”