The Warriors kicked off their 5-game road tour with an overtime thriller starring the unflappable (unless asked if he’s a fun guy) Kawhi Leonard, Klay “Ice cold in the veins” Thompson, and the one-and-only Kevin “Easy Money Sniper” Durant.
With the absence of Stephen Curry and Draymond Green, many saw this as a scheduled loss considering the Raptors have been the early-season pick to represent the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals.
The game sure appeared to follow that script when the Warriors fell behind by 18 points midway through the second quarter.
But behind the hot-hands of Durant and Thompson, these comeback Warriors managed to fight back time and time again up through the final buzzer.
The Warriors managed to withstand more than a handful of runs by the Raptors, always clawing their way back into the game, which set the stage for the final 5 minutes of the game.
After cutting the Raptor’s lead to a two possession game, Leonard and Danny Green would drill some shots to extend their lead back to double-digits at the 4:43 mark.
At this point, it felt like the game may have finally swung out the Warriors favor with Toronto holding a 114-104 lead.
On the ensuing possession after a timeout, Kevon Looney managed to grab 2 offensive rebounds, and the ball finally found its way through the net from the sweet-stroke of Jonas Jerebko. (TOR 114 - GSW 107)
Andre Iguodala stole the ball after the Raptors brought the ball down, which lead to Looney getting fouled on the fast-break layup attempt. He’d hit 1 of his 2 free-throws. (TOR 114 - GSW 108)
After trading a few empty possessions, Durant found a clear lane on the wing to drive and throw down a jam. (TOR 114 - GSW 110)
3 straight games of 40+ points for KD pic.twitter.com/yAsSD7kgBc— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) November 30, 2018
Looney continued to put in work on the boards as he converted a put-back tip-in after Durant’s layup barely rolled off the rim. (TOR 114 - GSW 112)
Leonard would hit a cold midrange after Toronto’s timeout. Durant would answer by getting to the line, although he only managed to convert one of his free-throws. (TOR 116 - GSW 113)
Kyle Lowry and Durant then trade clutch 3-pointers to keep the score steady. (TOR 119 - GSW 116)
Durant then makes the shot of the night with this fadeaway 3-point heave from the corner to tie the game with 8 seconds left.
COLD BLOODED pic.twitter.com/IQJyO3oSD0— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) November 30, 2018
Toronto would never get a shot off as Iguodala and Looney played perfect defense on Leonard on the final possession, sending the game into overtime.
Raptors couldn't even get a shot off pic.twitter.com/IYiZmOaeza— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) November 30, 2018
Unfortunately, it looked like the energy expended by the Warriors to continually claw back into the game ran out in the extra period.
After riding his hot hand in the first 3 quarters, the Warriors could only find remnants of steam from Thompson’s shot as he missed 8 of his last 9 shots over the 4th quarter and overtime.
The Raptors sold out on doubling Durant, who only managed to get a single shot off. And Iguodala made 2 costly mental errors in the final minute and a half, that resulted in turnovers to seal the 131-128 loss.
Moral victories aren’t typically something for a perennial championship-caliber team to celebrate, but the Warriors put forth an amazing effort tonight. Without the help of 2 of their all-stars, the team just barely ran out of gas in the final moments to steal this game against the hottest team in the East.
That is impressive to say the least and with Curry ready to return for the team’s next game, the Warriors look prime to regain some of that early-season dominance they’ve been missing for the past several weeks.
- After his breakout game against the Kings last week, Damian Jones returned to looking completely outmatched tonight. He was a team-worst -20 in plus/minus and didn’t grab a single rebound in his 10 minutes. The Raptors targeted him early on defense and it worked to their favor.
- The Warriors need a tertiary scorer — especially with Curry out — and tonight they found a hot hand in Jerebko, who nearly had a double-double with 20 points and 9 rebounds.
- Leonard has zero rust after taking a year-off. I can barely mentally check into work after a one-week vacation.
- The team needed every bit of Durant’s 51 points. This marks the third straight game Durant has scored 40+ points.