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Warriors hold off Raptors to even NBA Finals at 1-1 after big third quarter

Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) drives

Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) drives to the net as Toronto Raptors center Marc Gasol (33) looks on during the first half of Game 2 of the NBA Finals, Sunday, June 2, 2019, in Toronto.  Credit: AP/Frank Gunn

TORONTO — Outside Scotiabank Arena, the line began as the sun came up for fans to make their way into Jurassic Park, the fenced-in area that expanded far down Bremmer Boulevard to squeeze in more of the overflow crowd. By the time the game was about to start, a rousing rendition of “O Canada” turned into a sing-along for the sellout crowd. The Warriors must have felt as if they were battling not just the Raptors but an entire country.

It was easy for the Warriors to spend the days since their Game 1 loss promising a different outcome, a better effort and a return to their place atop the NBA. But when they took the floor, it was clear it wasn’t going to be easy.

“Championship teams generally bounce back well in times of adversity,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said after the morning shootaround. “So our team has always responded well after a loss. That’s the plan tonight.”

As the second half began, it showed. The Warriors scored the first 18 points of the third quarter and went on to a 109-104 victory that evened the NBA Finals at one game apiece.

In their best-laid plans, with the ball in their hands in the final seconds, the Warriors would have had Stephen Curry on the floor surrounded by Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson, three dangerous weapons to handle a crucial, panicked possession. But Durant was in street clothes, sidelined with a calf strain that has cost him the last seven games of the postseason, and Thompson left the game with a hamstring pull in the fourth quarter.

So after Danny Green hit a three-pointer with 26.9 seconds left to bring the Raptors within two points, the Warriors found themselves in a wild scramble as the clock ticked down. Curry was double-teamed and floated a dangerous pass that Kawhi Leonard seemed in position to intercept before Shaun Livingston stepped up to grab it.

He swung it to Andre Iguodala, alone outside the arc, and Iguodala — who was named Finals MVP in the first iteration of this Warriors championship run — hit a three-pointer with seven seconds left, allowing his team to exhale.

Even in the win, the Warriors suffered a series of losses. Already playing without Durant, whose status remains uncertain for the remainder of the series, the Warriors lost Kevon Looney with a left chest contusion in the first half and then saw Thompson (25 points) limp to the locker room after he came down awkwardly on a three-point attempt.

“Klay said he’ll be fine,” Kerr said. “But Klay could be half dead and he would say he would be fine. We’ll see. He pulled his hamstring. He thinks it is minor, so I don’t know what that means going forward. And Loon, something with his shoulder, so we’ll see. Sorry, that’s all I got.”

After Leonard was fouled and Curry (23 points) was called for a technical as he flipped the ball high in the air, Leonard (34 points, 14 rebounds) converted all three free throws with 1:08 left to bring the Raptors within five.

DeMarcus Cousins (11 points, 10 rebounds, six assists) threw a pass that was ruled out of bounds off Toronto, but after a replay, the officials changed the call. Green sank his three-pointer and Iguodala hit his huge three. Curry said he thought it was disrespectful to leave him open.

“Well, we weren’t disrespecting anybody,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said. “We were up guarding hard, and we put two on Steph and he almost threw it right to Kawhi, right? It was pretty good defense. They were scrambling around, running around like crazy. And they found Iggy .  .  . If he’s going to take that and give us a chance to get the ball back and win the game, we’re going to probably live with that.

“It wasn’t like we were disrespecting him and not trying to guard him. We were in a trap and rotating out of there, and again, I would like to go back and try that again about 10 times and see if one of them doesn’t go our way.”

The Warriors trailed by as many as 12 in the first half and by five at halftime. But after scoring the last two points of the second quarter, they raced through the first 5:40 of the third quarter without surrendering a point, taking a 72-59 lead.

“Obviously, Steph was great in closing out that half for us, and I think we should have been down by a lot more than five points,” said Draymond Green, who had 17 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists. “But when you’re going in, you know, into the half down five, we know we can cover that in 10 seconds.”

New York Sports