For Raptors, a bad 6-minute stretch proved very costly
TORONTO (AP) — It all came apart in about six minutes for the Toronto Raptors.
They went scoreless over their first 12 possessions of the second half, a stretch during which what had been a double-digit lead late in the second quarter became a double-digit deficit to the Golden State Warriors.
With that, the lead was gone for good.
And so, too, is the Raptors' home-court advantage in the NBA Finals. The Warriors were tested late but held on, ultimately defeating the Raptors 109-104 in Game 2 to even the title series.
Game 3 is Wednesday night on the Warriors' home floor, Oracle Arena.
"We had four or five decent possessions there and we just came away empty on all of them," Raptors coach Nick Nurse said. "And then we had probably four or five that were not good possessions, either. So certainly, the offense hurt the chance to get the defense set up there. I'm going to have to re-watch that.
"Probably not going to enjoy that very much, but I'm going to have to check it out."
The costly six minutes included: Eight missed shots by Toronto, five turnovers and 18 consecutive points given up to the Warriors — the biggest run of consecutive points to open a half in NBA Finals history, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Throw in the last two points of the half for Golden State, and it was a 20-0 run in all, which Elias said was the longest ever in a finals game.
They led 47-35 in the second quarter, 58-48 late in the half — and the Warriors, in a flash, turned that around and went up 72-59. Add it all up, and it was a 24-1 run for the two-time defending champions.
"Third quarter, we didn't play well enough," Raptors guard Kyle Lowry said. "We missed too many shots. They got out in transition and got a little confidence going. We lost the game there. Missing shots and not getting back on defense hurt us."
Even after all that sputtering, the Raptors still had chances.
Leonard made three free throws — two for a foul, one more for a technical on Stephen Curry — with 1:08 left to get the Raptors within 106-101. The Raptors forced a turnover on the next possession, and then got a 3-pointer from Danny Green with 27 seconds left to close the deficit to two.
Then they needed to get as defensive stop.
They didn't get it. A helter-skelter possession for Golden State was capped by Andre Iguodala's 3-pointer with 5.9 seconds left, allowing the Warriors to escape Toronto with a series split.
"It was all about our defense and we held them to 37 percent and forced 15 turnovers and guarded the 3-point line well," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. "So it was championship defense — and that's what it's going to take."
There will be more than the bad stretch for the Raptors to lament before Game 3 rolls around.
The Raptors shot only 37 percent. They were 11 for 38 from 3-point range. They couldn't take advantage of the Warriors again being without Kevin Durant, losing Klay Thompson in the fourth quarter with hamstring tightness and seeing key reserve big-man Kevon Looney leave with a chest contusion.
Now they'll need to win at least once on the Warriors' home floor to win a title.
"We're in the same boat they kind of were in coming here," Nurse said. "We got to go out there and get one, right? That's all we got to do is get one. And we can do that."