By Ponciano Melo Jr.
TORONTO, Canada — The two-time defending champions with backs against the wall, retaliate to take Game 5 but at the expense of losing its biggest hand in the process.
The Warriors escape to force another standoff in Toronto after an exciting 106-105 win over the Raptors, but it wasn't without incurring casualties as they lose Kevin Durant, this time it seems, for the remainder of the season.
Golden State has made it a contest, slicing Toronto's series lead to 3-2 in their best-of-seven duel after yet another thrilling matchup against their rivals from the North on the back of a huge defensive play in the dying seconds from Draymond Green who blocked Kyle Lowry's potential game-winning attempt at the corner 3-point line.
GSW, looking for a third-straight NBA crown, will have to dig deep to complete the turnaround as their loss of Durant, who returned in time for the must-win game, limped off the match early after a reported Achilles injury, making a steeper hill for the defending champs to conquer.
Two-time MVP Stephen Curry led the team with 31 points, on top of eight rebounds and seven assists while Klay Thompson had 26 points, six boards and four dimes, both combining for 12 of the Warriors 20 three-pointers. Green flirted with a double-double with 10 points, 10 rebounds and 8 assists.
Kawhi Leonard, on the other hand, was a basket short of another NBA title as he finished the game leading Toronto with 26 points and 12 rebounds, and six assists in 41 minutes. Lowry added 18 points, while Danny Green only produced 4 points in the loss.
"We had a chance to win a championship tonight and we didn't do it. We didn't play well enough," Raptors guard Fred VanVleet said. "We didn't execute enough down the stretch and that stings a little bit, but there's a lot more basketball left to play.
"We put ourselves in a good position. Now it's time to look at the film and see how we can get better."
Kawhi Leonard, who led Toronto with 26 points and 12 rebounds, scored eight points in a 12-2 run that gave the Raptors a 103-97 edge with 3:28 remaining, the crowd screaming in delight after Toronto had trailed most of the night.
Then came two Klay Thompson 3-pointers and another by Stephen Curry that put the Warriors ahead to stay. Lowry hit a jumper and the Raptors got one final chance after a foul called on Golden State's DeMarcus Cousins.
But as Toronto set up the play, the Warriors double-teamed Leonard and forced a pass to Lowry, whose last gasp Green deflected to end the threat.
"We tried to get to Kawhi to his right side, they doubled off him. Freddie had a look and he threw it to me in the corner," Lowry said.
"Draymond got a piece of it. He blocked it. I'm not going to miss it. He got a little piece of it. Felt great out of my hand. He got a piece of it. That's what great defenders do."
Action resumes for Game 6 as we head back to Oakland on June 14, 9 AM (Philippine Time). (with AFP)