TORONTO (Reuters) – The two-time defending champion Golden State Warriors used a massive third quarter to overcame a sluggish start and secure a 109-104 win over the Toronto Raptors on Sunday that squared the NBA Finals at one game apiece.
Jun 2, 2019; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Golden State Warriors guard Quinn Cook (4) and Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) celebrate during a time out in the fourth quarter against the Toronto Raptors in game two of the 2019 NBA Finals at Scotiabank Arena. Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
The resilient Warriors, in an unfamiliar position after losing their first Game One in five consecutive trips to the NBA Finals three days ago, opened the third quarter with an 18-0 run to grab a lead they would not relinquish.
Toronto led by as many as 12 points during a first half in which they used a dominant defensive display to slow down the Warriors but the visitors, well established as a terrific third-quarter team, rediscovered their swagger after the break.
Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry, who had a slow start to the game and appeared to lack his usual energy, led the way for the Warriors with 25 and 23 points, respectively, while Toronto’s Kawhi Leonard had a game-high 34 points.
Curry was given a technical foul with 68 seconds left for throwing the ball way up in the air after a whistle and Leonard made the ensuing three free throws to cut the deficit to 106-102 and set up a frantic finish.
With the crowd on their feet, Toronto’s Danny Green drained a three-pointer to pull the Raptors to within two points with 26 seconds to play but the Warriors responded when Andrew Iguodala drilled a clutch three with seven seconds left to seal the win.
The Warriors, playing without two-time reigning NBA Finals MVP Kevin Durant for a seventh consecutive game, again struggled defending in transition and looked to be in trouble early after a slow start by Curry.
The Warriors guard did not appear to have his usual energy in the early goings and got off to a slow start during which he was speaking with medical staff on the Warriors’ bench but he started to heat up late in the second quarter.
With former U.S. President Barack Obama and professional golfers Sergio Garcia and Rory McIlroy among those in the crowd, the Warriors shook off a slow start and now head home looking to inch closer to a fourth title in five years.
The best-of-seven series is now headed to Oakland for games on Wednesday and Friday.
Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Peter Rutherford and Sudipto Ganguly