Klay Thompson scored 25 points before leaving with a hamstring injury, Stephen Curry had 23 and the Golden State Warriors ran off the first 18 points of the second half on their way to a 109-104 victory over the Toronto Raptors on Sunday night that tied the NBA Finals at one game apiece.
With Kevin Durant already out and Thompson eventually joining him in the fourth quarter, the Warriors relied on a champion’s heart to overcome their weary bodies.
Andre Iguodala, himself slow to get up after a hard fall in the first half, made the clinching 3-pointer with 5.9 seconds left after the Raptors scored 10 straight points to cut it to 106-104.
Kawhi Leonard had 34 points and 14 rebounds for the Raptors. They had won five straight since falling behind 2-0 in the Eastern Conference finals.
Game 3 is Wednesday night at Golden State.
Curry appeared to be laboring as well in the first half, returning to the locker room in the midst of six straight misses to start the game.
But the Warriors cobbled together a good enough finish to the second quarter to keep it close, then stormed out of the locker room with one of their vintage third-quarter charges that have been so frequent during their run to five straight NBA Finals.
DeMarcus Cousins was inserted into the starting lineup and delivered 11 points, 10 rebounds and six assists, and Draymond Green had 17 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists – missing by one assist a fourth straight triple-double.
The series now moves to their Oracle Arena for Games 3 and 4, with the first NBA Finals to be played outside the U.S. assured of returning to Canada for Game 5.
The Warriors will hope to have enough healthy bodies to get through it. Thompson landed awkwardly after a 3-point attempt early in the fourth quarter and limped off soon after, with backup center Kevon Looney already missing the second half with a chest injury.
And Golden State is still without Durant, who missed his seventh straight game with a strained right calf but hopes to return during the series.
Fred VanVleet scored 17 points for the Raptors, who had red T-shirts with their slogan “We The North” hanging on seats around the arena.
The Warriors sure were seeing red, especially Curry, during a mostly miserable first half when they missed 20 of their first 28 shots.
He hung his head and didn’t even attempt to run back when VanVleet stole the ball from him and made a layup to give Toronto an 11-point lead with a little more than 2 minutes remaining in the half.
But Curry made two free throws for the final points of the half to cut it to 59-54, then the Warriors came back and pitched a shutout until nearly the midpoint of the third quarter during a series-changing – perhaps season-changing – swing.
Iguodala, had five quick points including a 3-pointer that moved Golden State into the lead at 61-59. The surge continued with three straight baskets from Thompson and three more from Green, whose last one capped it and made it 72-59 before Toronto finally got on the board with a 3-pointer with VanVleet with 6:20 remaining in the period.