SportsPulse: Warriors minority owner Mark Stevens was banned from NBA games for one year and fined $500,000. However, Kyle Lowry thinks the punishment should have been stronger. USA TODAY
OAKLAND, Calif. — The Golden State Warriors perhaps played their final game at Oracle Arena, and the Toronto Raptors are one victory from their first NBA championship in franchise history.
It is stunning all the way around, and Toronto is headed home to potentially close out the series after a 105-92 victory against Golden State in Game 4 on Friday.
The Raptors have a 3-1 series lead after winning both games in Oakland, and Scotiabank Arena in Toronto will be one high-energy environment for Game 5 on Monday (9 p.m. ET, ABC).
It was another team effort from Toronto’s starters and reserves, led once again by formidable All-Star Kawhi Leonard, who had 36 points, 12 rebounds and three steals. It was his 14th game with at least 30 points in the playoffs and his third consecutive 30-point performance in this series.
The Raptors still need to win another game, but Leonard is the MVP of the series through four games.
Serge Ibaka had 12 of his series-best 20 points in the second half, and Pascal Siakam added 19 points.
Hard-nosed Kyle Lowry didn’t have his shooting going, but he ran the offense (six assists) and played championship defense with three steals.
The 19,956 fans – minus the handful of Raptors fans – at Oracle left in stunned silence, realizing the Warriors’ chances of winning three consecutive titles and a fourth championship in five seasons are slipping away.
Realizing that it was maybe the last game at Oracle. Realizing the roster could be so much different next season.
Golden State got a tad healthier with the return of Klay Thompson, who missed one game with a mild hamstring pull, and Kevon Looney, who was ruled out indefinitely after sustaining fractured cartilage in his rib/chest area in Game 2.
But there’s still one glaring absence for the Warriors: Kevin Durant. Durant (strained calf) missed his ninth consecutive game and Warriors coach Steve Kerr said, “We’re hoping he can play Game 5 or 6.”
But he hasn’t played since May 8. Can he return and make a difference?
Regardless, the Raptors are relentless and resilient. They trailed by 11 in the first quarter and were having a horrible shooting game. But as they have done all postseason, they just kept working on defense, which led to better offense.
Let’s go to the start of the third quarter and a 46-42 Warriors lead. Toronto put together a masterful third quarter that might have decided the Finals. The Raptors outscored the Warriors 37-21 as Leonard had 17 points and Ibaka seven. Toronto shot 54.5% from the field and made five 3-pointers while holding Golden State to 35% shooting in the quarter.
It was 79-67 Toronto after three, and the Raptors’ lead grew to 82-67 on Fred VanVleet’s 3-pointer with 11:48 left in the game. Toronto stretched it to 88-72 on Leonard’s 3-pointer with 8:44 remaining.
Thompson finished the game with 28 points and Steph Curry had 27.
But Golden State didn’t have enough gas to overcome that deficit and now need an improbable comeback to win the series.
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