The Toronto Raptors are one win away from their first NBA championship in the team’s 24-year history.
Kawhi Leonard scored 17 of his 36 points in the third quarter to lead to Raptors to a gritty 105-92 come-from-behind victory over the Golden State Warriors on Friday.
The Raptors, who lead the best-of-seven series 3-1, can capture the Larry O’Brien Trophy on home court at Scotiabank Arena on Monday.
Leonard also hauled down a team-high 12 rebounds for the Raptors, who are making their finals debut. Serge Ibaka added 20 points for the Raptors, who took control with a massive third quarter. Pascal Siakam chipped in with 19 points, while Kyle Lowry had 10 points and seven assists.
Klay Thompson, who sat out Game 3 with a hamstring injury, had 28 points to top the two-time defending champion Warriors, who are making their fifth consecutive finals appearance. Stephen Curry, who had a playoff career-high 47 points on Wednesday, scored 27.
Kevon Looney also returned for Golden State after it was previously announced he was out for the remainder of the series with a rib injury.
Trailing by as many as 11 points in the first half, the Raptors roared back with 37 points in the third, outscoring the Warriors by 16 points in the frame. Leonard had two straight threes to kick-start the quarter, then Marc Gasol’s jumper 1:29 into the quarter gave Toronto its first lead since early in the first quarter. The Raptors led 79-67 to start the fourth.
Leonard drilled a three with 8:44 to play to stretch Toronto’s advantage to 16 points. A Curry three-pointer capped a 13-6 Warriors run that sliced the Raptors’ lead to just eight with 2:56 to play. But Siakam made two free throws and then drilled a two before Lowry drove for a layup and the Raptors went back up by 14, sending hundreds of Warriors fans to the exits.
Siakam scored on a mid-range jumper with 52 seconds left, prompting a roaring “Let’s go Raptors!” chant from the Toronto fans in attendance.
Fred VanVleet, who had eight points on the night, took a massive elbow to the face from Shaun Livingston — and lost a tooth in the process — a couple of minutes into the fourth, and was bleeding profusely before he was helped off the court and to the locker-room. VanVleet received seven stitches but passed concussion protocol and returned to the bench.
The Raptors are 8-0 in playoff games in which Ibaka scores 10 or more points.
The Raptors acquired Leonard, Gasol and Danny Green in their quest for their first NBA championship. If there’s been one common character trait throughout the team in their historic post-season ability, it’s their ability to keep level-headed through both the highs and lows.