Toronto needed a run at the end of the second quarter to get things close, and they got one, getting Golden State’s lead down to just one point with 43.3 seconds remaining. But a Stephen Curry 3-pointer and a Kevon Looney putback had the Warriors’ lead back to 62-56 as the quarter ended.
Golden State has been undeniably sloppy since Kevin Durant left the game following the re-injury of his right calf, but the Warriors have managed to outscore the Raptors by a point since the injury.
Curry is up to 23 points to lead all scorers, and Klay Thompson has 12, but the key to the resurgence without Durant was undeniably DeMarcus Cousins, who has 9 points and 5 rebounds in just six minutes of action, looking as dominant as he has at any point in his time with the Warriors.
Marc Gasol leads Toronto with 15 points, and Kawhi Leonard has 13 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists.
The key to the second half may be foul trouble. Golden State’s Draymond Green has three fouls — and already has a technical — so he will have to be on his best behavior, but Toronto’s Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet also have three fouls each. As the Raptors like to send bodies at Curry repeatedly to try to frustrate the dominant shooter, having two of the players charged with that task in foul trouble could give Curry some room to work.
No official announcement has been made about the status of Durant in the second half, but based on his vocal frustration as he walked off the court, a return seems unlikely.
2nd Quarter: The Raptors are not scared.
Toronto has muscled its way back to a six-point disadvantage, 54-48, with 3:28 remaining in the half thanks to some tough play from their players and some sloppiness on behalf of Golden State.
Stephen Curry turned the ball over two more times, DeMarcus Cousins missed a few free throws, and, most important, Draymond Green picked up his third foul of the game — then, after arguing with officials, got his sixth technical foul of the playoffs. One more and he will receive a one-game suspension.
Kawhi Leonard is starting to assert himself, and is up to 11 points. Marc Gasol leads the Raptors with 13.
2nd Quarter: DeMarcus Cousins comes in hot.
DeMarcus Cousins had yet to check in before Kevin Durant was injured, but the former starter came in shortly afterward and made three quick baskets including a wide-open 3-pointer. He also fought hard for a few rebounds.
Thanks to that injection of energy, the Warriors’ lead had actually increased to 48-37 when Nick Nurse called a timeout for Toronto.
The key for Golden State has been getting a third offensive option going alongside Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, and if Durant can’t be that option, this is the time for Cousins to step up.
There are still more than seven minutes left in the second quarter, and a tough home team like the Raptors will want to head into halftime on some sort of run, and to do that they’re either going to need to slow down Golden State’s shooters or start getting more production from Kawhi Leonard (6 points), Pascal Siakam (6) or Kyle Lowry (2).
2nd Quarter: Some Raptors fans cheer Durant’s injury.
The fans in Toronto initially cheered loudly when it became clear that Durant was injured, but Kyle Lowry and some of the Raptors were fairly demonstrative in their support of the frustrated star and the crowd at Scotiabank Arena quieted considerably.
Scott Cacciola: What a wild first half. I feel like the crowd is trying to process everything that’s already happened — while enjoying the hip-hop stylings of Baka Not Nice during this timeout. (Baka Not Nice is signed to Drake’s record label, which is probably not a total coincidence.)
2nd Quarter: Kevin Durant goes down.
Kevin Durant tried to drive past Toronto’s Serge Ibaka and ended up simply letting Ibaka take the ball as he collapsed to the ground, grabbing his right calf in pain.
The Warriors’ star, who has been so brilliant in his return, was immediately taken off the court and will have the calf examined, but a return to the game seems extremely unlikely considering how severe the strain had been and how much time he’d missed with it the first time around.
Golden State is up, 39-34, but much of that seemed to be momentum on both ends of the court caused by Durant’s return. If he cannot play, this series could be as good as over.
Between Quarters: On Kevin Durant
Between the first and second quarters, Steve Kerr was asked by ABC’s Doris Burke about Durant, and the Warriors’ coach gushed about his star.
“He’s pretty good I think,” Kerr said. “He just changes the whole game with his shotmaking and the attention he draws from the defense.”
Scott Cacciola: No concert between the first and second quarters, but Vince Carter was introduced along with several other former Raptors at center court and was greeted by an enormous ovation. It was probably even louder than the ovation Wayne Gretzky got earlier in the game, which is a sign of how much Carter still means to fans in the Toronto area and impact that he had on popularizing the sport in Canada.
Raptors was a second-year player for the Raptors when he won the N.B.A.’s slam dunk contest in 2000, and it was a seminal moment for a lot of Canadian children — like Jamal Murray, who was just 3 years old at the time and told me that the dunk contest was one of his earliest memories.
“I would try to go between the legs just like him,” said Murray, who emerged as a star for the Denver Nuggets this season.
End of 1st Quarter
After Stephen Curry put Golden State back in the lead with a free throw, the Warriors closed the quarter strong, up 34-28.
Kevin Durant continued to look like he’s somewhere near 100 percent, hitting his third 3-pointer of the game (on three attempts) and showing some extra effort, diving over Serge Ibaka for a loose ball and getting into a war of words with Fred VanVleet after Durant had been called for a reach-in foul on the small guard.
Curry leads all scorers with 14 points, Durant has 11 and Draymond Green even got in the action with an open 3-pointer, with Golden State shooting 7 of 10 from 3-point range in the quarter.
The Raptors, meanwhile, are just 1 of 6 from 3-point range, with Marc Gasol anchoring them with 10 points as Kawhi Leonard has been a bit out of sorts, shooting 2 of 6 for 6 points.
Considering the shooting advantage, the Raptors have shown a great deal of fight in this game, and even a mild downturn in Golden State’s shooting, or an uptick in Toronto’s, could change the lead quickly.
1st Quarter: The Raptors are getting it done on defense.
With an incredible 9-0 run, the Raptors were able to take a 21-19 lead and were up, 23-21 when Fred VanVleet fouled Stephen Curry when Curry was in the act of shooting a 3-pointer. Curry hit his first two attempts before a timeout was called, tying the score at 23-23, but Toronto appears to be taking advantage of a stretch in which Kevin Durant is out resting his calf.
The scoreless run for Golden State had included turnovers from Curry, Kevon Looney and Klay Thompson, with Marc Gasol proving particularly disruptive on the defensive end.
Scott Cacciola: Marc Gasol is having a huge first quarter for the Raptors. And what a coincidence: I wrote a story for today’s paper about how Memphis might be the Raptors’ greatest base of support outside of Canada, all because of Gasol and the successful years he spent with the Grizzlies. Fans in Memphis still adore him.
1st Quarter: Dance break?
Scott Cacciola: One of the interesting things about playoff games is that the timeouts seem almost endless, and we can thank the league’s television broadcast partner for that. At previous games, the Raptors have trotted out local rappers for miniature concerts — during timeouts! Which is crazy! But there you go. During the first timeout tonight, the team’s game operations crew unfurled an enormous flag that covered nearly the entire court. It read: “NOISE.” I don’t really think this crowd needs to be reminded to make noise, but the Raptors aren’t taking any chances.
Meanwhile, Warriors Coach Steve Kerr is leaving Klay Thompson in with two fouls. Kerr trusts him a great deal not to pick up a third.
1st Quarter: A different vibe with Durant on the floor.
It was a quick start for the Warriors’ offense, with Stephen Curry hitting a 3-pointer on the team’s first possession and Kevin Durant connecting twice from 3 in the first three minutes.
Things have clicked offensively, with Golden State hitting seven of its first nine shots, including all five attempts from 3-point range, but the Raptors have hardly wilted. After Klay Thompson fouled Marc Gasol with 7:11 left in the first, putting Gasol on the line for two shots, the Warriors were only leading 19-12.
Thus far Durant has not appeared limited in his movements, and his presence seems to have relaxed the rest of the team.
With Kevin Durant back, the Warriors went with their small starting lineup — the Hampton’s Five to some — with Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson starting alongside Durant.
Durant, as he had been doing before his injury, lined up for the tip, timed the first attempt poorly and then was outjumped by Toronto’s Marc Gasol for the ball. And with that, Game 5, a game that could decide the series, is underway.
Scott Cacciola: Pregame news conferences tend to be staid affairs, free of insight. Coaches don’t want to give anything away, and that seems especially true in the N.B.A. finals when the stakes are so high. But Raptors Coach Nike Nurse is an unconventional guy with an unconventional background and an unconventional approach, and he doesn’t mind sharing now and then.
Such was the case before the Raptors headed to Oakland for Games 3 and 4, when Nurse essentially said that he was hoping his team could return to Toronto with the series tied at two games apiece. Instead, the Raptors returned with a 3-1 series lead. So before tonight’s game, Nurse gave a lot of the credit to Kawhi Leonard — not necessarily for Leonard’s play on the court (though his play has been extraordinary) but for some choice words that Leonard shared with his teammates in the locker room before their trip to the west coast.
“I was like, ‘All we got to do is go get one,’” Nurse recalled. “And Kawhi said, ‘Expletive that, let’s go get them both.’”
Yes, Nurse actually said “expletive.” One can assume Leonard used a different word.