The Toronto Raptors stars made sure not even a supernova performance by Steph Curry would deny them victory in Game 3.
Kawhi Leonard scored 30 points, 15 in the third quarter, and Kyle Lowry added 23 points and 9 assists, as the Raptors beat the Golden State Warriors 123-109 on Wednesday (Thursday, Manila time) to take a 2-1 lead in the 2019 NBA Finals.
Danny Green, who won a championship with Leonard with the San Antonio Spurs, was a difference-maker, too, hitting 6 3-pointers, most of them in crucial stretches of the game. He tallied 18 points.
"They never make anything easy and Steph is a two-time MVP," Lowry said.
"For us, we need to just stay locked into the game plan. We can't have any mental lapses, that’s what hurts us. We've just got to continue to work, play hard and stay level headed."
Curry was nearly unstoppable on the day, leaving his mark on both ends of the floor.
He scored a playoff career-high 47 points, on 14-of-31 shooting from the floor, to go with 6 3-pointers. He also shot 13 of 14 from the foul line.
He also finished with 8 rebounds, 7 assists and 2 steals, and made sure the Warriors were within striking distance of Toronto, which shot 52.4% from the floor (43-of-82 field goals), a vast improvement from the Raptors' woeful shooting display in Game 2.
But a lack of personnel proved too much to overcome for the defending champions.
Still, doubts were raised whether the Raptors have the fortitude to get back up after falling in Toronto.
Those were answered in Oakland, as Leonard and co. exploited the Warriors’ injury woes to take back home-court advantage in the series.
Despite being undermanned, the Warriors still posed a game-long threat, especially with Curry playing red-hot to fill the scoring shoes vacated by injured teammates Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant.
But even with a legendary production by Curry, he couldn't singlehandedly tame the Raptors, who relied on former champions Leonard and Green making clutch baskets.
Game 4 is on Friday (Saturday, Manila time) and remains on the Warriors home court in Oakland.
After blowing a double-digit lead in Game 2 only to regain another in the first half of Game 3, the Raptors were clinging to an 83-75 advantage in the final 3 minutes of the third period before Green bombed in back-to-back 3-pointers to expand the margin to 14.
Toronto went on to lead by as many as 16 in the period, the last time when Green nailed his third 3-pointer of the period for a 96-80 advantage with 29.2 seconds remaining.
The Warriors, who hadn't played a home game in 20 days and hadn't lost at home since the first round of the postseason, never got closer than 7 after that.
Green's 6 3-pointers were his most this postseason, but one fewer than the 7 he made twice in the postseason for the San Antonio Spurs in 2013 and 2014.
Lowry also had a game-high 9 assists.
The Raptors shot 17-for-38 on 3-point attempts, outscoring the Warriors 51-36 from behind the arc.
Pascal Siakam (18 points, game-high 9 rebounds) and Marc Gasol (17 points) also scored in double figures for Toronto, which was playing its first road game in 13 days.
Without Thompson (hamstring) and Durant (heel), both of whom might return for Game 4, the Warriors' supporting cast could do no better than 17 points from Draymond Green and 11 from Andre Iguodala.
The Raptors wasted little time taking advantage of their short-handed foe, running off to a 17-7 lead behind 10 combined points from Siakam and Gasol.
Despite 25 points by Curry, the most he's ever scored in a half in an NBA Finals game, Toronto led by as many as 14 in the first two periods before settling into a 60-52 advantage at the break. —With a report from Dave Del Grande, Field Level Media/Reuters
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