Leonard the star for Raptors in a night of high drama
Danny Green had six three-pointers in an 18-point performance to lead the Raptors to a 123-109 victory over the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday evening at Oracle Arena. Toronto will now take a 2-1 lead into Friday’s Game 4 of the NBA finals, also at Oracle.
Just moments after the decisive win, Green joked about the shooting tips he received from former teammate Shaquille O’Neal.
“I spoke to him before the game briefly. He’s always on the TNT set. And every time I see him, he’s giving me his pure shooting advice. Because he was good at it,” Green deadpanned. “But just the fundamentals, the small things, telling me to be confident and just hold the follow-through.
“And obviously after a good shooting night, it’s easy to see that his advice has worked,” added Green, who played with Shaq in Cleveland in 2010. “He’s always been that guy to me every year that we get on the playoffs or on this stage where he comes over and tells me to stay confident and give me his shooting advice.”
While Green’s success from three-point range was part of a big night in that area for the Raptors. Toronto’s 17 three-pointers tied a record for most threes by a road team in Finals history.
Kawhi Leonard led six Toronto players into double figures with 30 points. Kyle Lowry scored 23 and added nine assists for the Raptors, who have quickly adjusted to life in the championship series. Meanwhile, Pascal Siakam recorded 18 points, while Marc Gasol ended with 17, and Fred VanVleet scored 11.
Meanwhile, Stephen Curry had a playoff-best 47 points for the banged-up Golden State Warriors. The home side lost for the first time in six games at Oracle Arena.
“My dad used to tell me the stats don’t matter, just the final score,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said on Curry’s big night. “So we’ll take the win and be thankful for that.”
However, Green’s huge game ended a long dry spell for the Raptors long-range specialist. He made four three-pointers in the entire six-game Eastern Conference final against the Bucks. Green now has made six or more three-pointers in three career NBA Finals games; the second most in history.
“Danny’s buckets I think boosted our whole team’s confidence. Because we’re kind of used to most of the year relying on those,” Nurse said. “I think that when he banked a couple there and then he kind of kept it going. I think it was just a huge confidence boost all around.”
Lowry was the Toronto motor throughout the game. And, VanVleet figured the veteran point guard was in for a good night.
“He came out firing tonight and he was big,” VanVleet said. “I think putting him on Steph early got his juices going a little bit as a competitor. He was unbelievable for us tonight. Every time we needed a bucket, he gave us one. Every time they made a run, he had an answer. Kyle was unbelievable.”
The Raptors led from the outset. They went up by 12 points in the first quarter, stretching it to 14 in the second, and 16 during the third to stun the yellow-clad crowd.
Should the Raptors repeat this feat on Friday, then there could be a memorable night in store for Raptors fans across the globe back at the Scotiabank on Monday.