The Golden State Warriors blew a 14-point lead and lost Kevin Durant to an Achilles injury, but held off the Toronto Raptors and a red-hot Kawhi Leonard late in the fourth period to win Game 5 of the NBA Finals 106-105.
Kyle Lowry missed a fadeaway jumpshot as time expired and the Raptors missed an opportunity to close out the series on their home court at ScotiaBank Arena in downtown Toronto.
The Warriors, who actually have a better road record (8-3) in the playoffs than a home record (5-4), staved off elimination but they still trail the Raptors 3-2 in the best-of-seven series.
Kevin Durant practiced for the first time in a month and returned to action after a 32-day layoff. He injured himself with nine minutes remaining in the second quarter. He tried to drive around Serge Ibaka and fell to the floor clutching his lower leg. In his brief return, Durant shot perfect from beyond the arc (3-for-3) and scored 11 points in 12 minutes of action.
Steph Curry led all scorers with 31 points. Klay Thompson added 26 for the Warriors. They combined for 9 points in crunch time to erase a 6-point lead late in the game.
Kawhi Leonard shrugged off early shooting woes to finish with 26 points. At one point late in the fourth quarter, Leonard scored ten straight points for the Raptors to put them up six points. However, the Splash Brothers and the Warriors counterattacked with a 9-0 run of their own. The Raptors never regained the lead and the Warriors held on for an emotional win.
Kawhi Time and Bad Treys
Kawhi Leonard and the Raptors got off to a slow start. The Warriors outgunned them with 7-for-10 from three-point range versus only 1-for-6 from the Raptors to start the first quarter.
Leonard had 12 quiet points in the first half. He scored just a single point in the third quarter. It took him a while before he woke up from his slumber, but when he got hot, the Warriors couldn’t stop him. Leonard drilled a pull-up three-pointer on a fastbreak to put the Raptors ahead as the crowd erupted. Leonard took over the game for a stretch of the fourth quarter where every fan in the building was convinced they were about to win the championship.
With three minutes to go in the game, the Warriors scored just 13 points in the fourth quarter, while Leonard almost matched them with 12 points.
On the last possession of the game, Kawhi did not have a good look and he did not take the final shot. He passed to Fred VanVleet who got the ball to Kyle Lowry in the corner. Lowry whiffed and the Raptors lost without their best player taking the final shot. No last-second heroics from Leonard this time.
Splash Comeback and Boogie Time
When the Warriors lost Durant in the second quarter, Boogie Cousins came off the bench for a much-needed emotional boost. The backup center scored seven quick points to put the Warriors ahead by double-digits.
The Warriors clung to a 6-point lead due to their sharpshooting advantage. The Warriors hit 11-for-21 treys in the first half versus only 2-for-12 for the Raptors.
By the end of the third quarter, the Splash Brothers combined for 46 points on 9-for-20 from downtown.
When the Raptors took a 6-point lead, the Warriors didn’t sweat. They turned to the Splash Brothers. Thompson, boom. Curry, boom. Thompson, boom. Nine-straight points and the Warriors seized the lead.
“They’re amazing,” said head coach Steve Kerr. “They’re amazing competitors, great shooters.”
Curry and Thompson combined for 47 points, 14 rebounds, and 11 assists. They shot 12-for-27 from downtown. The Warriors hit 20 treys to the Raptors’ only 8 from long range.
On Deck: Game 6
Game 6 returns to Oracle Arena in Oakland on Thursday evening. It will be the Warriors final home game before the team moves across the bay to play in a new arena in downtown San Francisco.
Both Kevon Looney and Kevin Durant are expected to miss Game 6.
The Warriors opened as a consensus 4-point favorite. If the Warriors win and force a Game 7, the Raptors host it in Toronto on Sunday evening.