Toronto Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard (2) gets double covered by Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson (11) and Warriors forward Draymond Green (23) during second half of Game 2 NBA Finals basketball action in Toronto on Sunday, June 2, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

VIDEO: Warriors beat Raptors 109-104, even NBA Finals at 1-1

Sluggish third quarter too much for Toronto to overcome

TORONTO — Klay Thompson had 25 points, while Stephen Curry had 23 to lead the Golden State Warriors to a 109-104 victory over the Raptors on Sunday, sending the best-of-seven NBA Finals to Oakland, Calif., tied up at 1-1.

Kawhi Leonard had 34 points and 14 rebounds to lead the Raptors, his 12th 30-point game of these playoffs, while Fred VanVleet had 17. Kyle Lowry had 13 points before picking up his sixth foul and leaving the game with 3:52 to play. Pascal Siakam chipped in with 12 points as Toronto continued its first NBA Finals appearance in its 24-year history.

The Raptors led by as many as 12 points in the first half, but were done in by an awful third quarter that saw the Warriors race out to an 18-0 run while fans were still filing back to their seats with their halftime beers. The Raptors turned the ball over five times and missed their first nine shots in the ugly stretch. VanVleet finally ended Golden State’s run with a three-pointer with 6:20 remaining in the quarter.

The Warriors led 88-80 with one quarter to play. Danny Green’s three-pointer slashed Golden State’s lead to just four points with nine minutes to play, but the Warriors’ offence, which had 34 assists on 38 made baskets on the night, was sizzling. Almost nothing was falling for Toronto.

An Andrew Bogut basket had Golden State up by 12 with 5:40 to play. The Raptors chipped away and three free throws from Leonard, one of them for a technical called on Curry for tossing the ball up in the air in anger, pulled Toronto to within five points with 1:08 to play.

Green drilled a three with 26 seconds to play, making it a two-point game and prompting a roar from the Scotiabank Arena crowd. But a wide open Andre Iguodala replied with a three with 5.9 seconds left to put the Warriors back up by two possessions. Green’s three at buzzer bounced off the rim.

The referees were an unfortunate storyline of the game, as Lowry, Siakam and Gasol were all in early foul trouble.

Raptors coach Nick Nurse had talked before tipoff of the proliferation of post-season whistles.

“It is tricky out there,” the coach said. “We have been in some foul trouble in the playoffs a bit with certain guys. It’s strange because it doesn’t seem like you’re ever in foul trouble in the regular season.”

Leonard joined an illustrious group with his scoring output. Other players who’ve had a dozen 30-point games in a single playoff run: Elgin Baylor, Kobe Bryant, Allen Iverson, LeBron James, Michael Jordan, Shaquille O’Neal, Hakeem Olajuwon, and Jerry West.

RELATED: VIDEO: Raptors beat Warriors 118-109 in Game 1 of NBA Finals

Baskets were at a premium in the game’s early minutes, the two teams shooting a combined 5-for-19 before the first timeout. The Raptors took a six-point lead on an alley-oop dunk from VanVleet to Siakam, but the Warriors promptly went on a 10-0 run to go up by four. Toronto led 27-26 to start the second.

Leonard converted a three-point play to stretch the Raptors’ lead to 12 points with just over five minutes to play in the first half. A couple of Curry free throws with four seconds left sliced the Raptors’ advantage to 59-54 at halftime.

The Raptors won Thursday’s series opener 118-109, riding the momentum of four straight victories over Milwaukee in the Eastern Conference final.

Games 3 and 4 are Wednesday and Friday in Oakland. Game 5 is Monday, June 10 in Toronto.

The Raptors hope to have OG Anunoby back on the floor soon. The athletic forward, who had an emergency appendectomy the night before the post-season tipped off, was finally activated on Sunday, but Nurse said he had lost a significant amount of weight, and probably wouldn’t play until later in the Finals.

The Warriors had their own health woes Sunday. Curry appeared ill in the first half and briefly left the bench with the Warriors’ medical staff, while Iguodala was shaken up late in the first half after backing into Gasol on a hard screen, and Kevon Looney left the game with a left chest contusion. Thompson also left in the fourth after appearing to injure his leg.

Sunday’s star-studded crowd featured former U.S. president Barack Obama — who sat in the middle of the lower bowl alongside NBA commissioner Adam Silver, and received a standing ovation plus chants of “M-V-P!” when he was introduced — plus former Toronto Blue Jays star Roberto Alomar, golfers Rory McIlroy and Sergio Garcia, and numerous recording artists including J. Cole, The Weeknd, Shawn Mendes, and, of course, Drake.

The Toronto rapper, whose saucy post-season attire has created a buzz the last couple of games, wore a black hoodie Sunday with Macaulay Culkin’s famous open-mouthed face from “Home Alone,” over the word “KEVIN?!?!?!?!” — apparently trolling injured Warriors star Kevin Durant.

Recording artist Alessia Cara of Brampton, Ont., led the Scotiabank Arena crowd in a rousing performance of “O Canada.” “American Idol” winner Fantasia Barrino performed the American Anthem.

RELATED: Top Raptors Game 1 ticket went for almost $24,000, StubHub says

Warriors coach Steve Kerr, who’s never been shy with political statements, wore a T-shirt that said “Vote For Our Lives” to the pre-game press availability, in response to the recent mass shooting in Virginia Beach.

THE CANADIAN PRESS

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