Raptors complete sweep of Warriors without Leonard to fire NBA finals warning

  • Toronto beat Golden State 113-93 without their best player
  • Raptors beat Warriors in Oakland for first time since 2004
  • Two teams tipped to meet again for NBA title next year
Golden State players watch as time ticks down in the fourth quarter of their loss to the Raptors. Photograph: Kyle Terada/USA Today Sports

Minus their top player and with their coach still mourning his mother’s death two days earlier, the Toronto Raptors put an emphatic stamp on a season sweep of Golden State. They did it with the two-time defending NBA champion Warriors nearly at full strength, too, a very different scenario from when the teams played in Toronto less than two weeks ago.

Kyle Lowry had 23 points and 12 assists to lead a balanced Toronto offense while leading scorer Kawhi Leonard sat out, and the Raptors dominated from the start in routing the Warriors 113-93 on Wednesday night.

“When you play them you have to do a lot of things well,” said Toronto assistant Adrian Griffin, who spoke with reporters after the game while head coach Nick Nurse left to be with his family in Iowa for his mother’s funeral. “Give our guys credit, they came in ready to play and they fought with great intensity. We knew it was going to be a challenge for us and I thought that Kyle did a phenomenal job leading the team. He is an All-Star, no doubt.”

Serge Ibaka added 20 points, Danny Green scored 15, Pascal Siakam had 13 and Fred VanVleet 10 to help the Raptors improve to an NBA-best 23-7, matching the 2014-15 squad for the best start in franchise history.

They did it despite not having Leonard for a second consecutive night. Toronto’s star forward has a sore right hip and was considered questionable before the game. He was ruled out less than 30 minutes before tip-off.

Kevin Durant had 30 points, seven rebounds and five assists for Golden State. The Warriors had won four straight heading into a much-anticipated showdown between two teams many expect to reach the NBA finals. “We didn’t start the game off with a sense of urgency,” Durant said. “I don’t think we overlooked anybody tonight. They just played better than us.”

Despite playing the second half of a back-to-back following a 123-99 win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday, Toronto appeared to be the fresher team. The Raptors repeatedly beat the sluggish Warriors to loose balls and outrebounded them 48-40. It was Toronto’s first win in Oakland since 2004.

“It’s a different vibe, a different feeling when you’re on the climb like Toronto is and Milwaukee is like we were a few years ago,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “It’s harder to get up for each game. There are certain nights where you can just feel it; you don’t have that energy. It’s not an excuse. It’s just reality.”

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