Sizzling Siakam leads Raptors over Warriors in NBA Finals
Toronto (Canada) (AFP) –
Toronto forward Pascal Siakam scored 32 points and the upstart Raptors defeated the defending champion Golden State Warriors 118-109 in Thursday's opening game of the NBA Finals.
The 25-year-old Cameroonian forward made 14-of-17 shots from the floor while Kawhi Leonard added 23 points and both players pulled down eight rebounds and passed out five assists.
Spanish center Marc Gasol added 20 points and Kyle Lowry had nine assists for the Raptors, who seized the lead in the best-of-seven championship series that resumes Sunday in Toronto.
Stephen Curry scored a game-high 34 points for Golden State but the Warriors could not solve Toronto's swarming and aggressive defensive work.
"We've got a lot of bodies," Siakam said. "We've got guys just willing to move and play defense. We use it to our advantage. I think we're doing a pretty decent job. We made some mistakes but for the most part we played solid."
The Warriors seek their third title in a row and fourth in five seasons while the Raptors are in the first NBA Finals in their 24-season history.
Danny Green's right corner 3-pointer lifted the Raptors to their largest first-half lead at 59-49 to end the second quarter.
The Raptors, 11-1 in this year's playoffs when leading at half-time, closed the first half on a 12-4 run.
Golden State trimmed Toronto's edge to four points on Kevon Looney's dunk late in the third quarter but Patrick McCaw's 3-pointer boosted Toronto's lead to 88-81 after three quarters.
Siakam scored 14 points in the third quarter, going 6-of-6 from the floor after 12 points on 5-of-7 shooting in the first half.
In the fourth quarter, the Warriors closed within 90-87 on a DeMarcus Cousins free throw with 10:38 remaining but got no closer, the Raptors holding the Warriors to 43.6 percent shooting (34-of-78) and just 12-of-31 from 3-point range.
Curry, whose two free throws to open the scoring produced Golden State's largest lead, became the first player in NBA Finals history to sink 100 career 3-pointers.
The milestone shot from beyond the arc came 6:44 into the first quarter, his second of three 3-pointers in the first half.
But Curry went only 3-of-10 from the floor in the first half, 8-of-18 for the game, and backcourt partner Klay Thompson was only 8-of-17 for 21 points.
- Cousins returns -
Golden State, playing without injured star forward Kevin Durant, welcomed back center Cousins, who suffered a torn left quad muscle last month in only the second playoff game of his nine-year career.
Serge Ibaka, a Congolese-born Spaniard, gave the Raptors a 31-26 lead on a fast break slam dunk in the second quarter and Golden State inserted Cousins, who scored two points and made two assists in four minutes.
Cousins finished with three points in eight minutes.
Raptors rap-star superfan Drake sat courtside wearing an old Toronto jersey of Dell Curry, Stephen's dad who once played for the Raptors, and an elastic band covering his left-arm tattoos of Stephen Curry and Durant.
? 2019 AFP