Golden State Warriors 112 – Raptors 109: A big win slips off the hook


The Warriors and Raptors had a serious tussle in California recently. Could the Raptors end Golden State’s insane winning streak in Toronto?

The Toronto Raptors traded punch for punch with the undefeated Golden State Warriors, and at the end the visitors had the final swing. The Warriors, who know their way around close games (that’s how they won last year’s NBA title), took advantage of yet another crummy Raptors first quarter. While our team “won” the next three, the gap was too large.

Stephen Curry was expected to be the story, and he didn’t disappoint. GS’ all-world guard poured in 44 points, including 9 of 15 from beyond the arc. I don’t know how you’re supposed to defend the guy, particularly when his partner in crime, Klay Thompson was 6 for 9 from deep, and scored 26 in total. The Raptors had five more field goals than the visitors, but half the long balls (16 to 8).

Kyle Lowry was hardly less brilliant that Curry, and on most days would be Man of the Match, as they in footie circles. He had 41 points, a career high, though a missed free throw late will give him nightmares. That botched chance to tie the game with 44 seconds to play hung like a sword of Damocles over the Raptors. The final nail in the coffin occurred with three seconds to play when Cory Joseph turned too soon on the in-bounds pass. He never cleanly received the ball, and it dribbled out of bounds. GS used a brilliant backcourt in-bounds play to render the Raptors incapable of fouling, and the buzzer sounded.

Dec 5, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan (10) battles for a rebound with Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson (11) during the second half of the Warriors 112-109 win at Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

The Raptors would have been in much better shape had DeMar DeRozan, Luis Scola and DeMarre Carroll found their strokes. They were a combined 11 for 38, which included a few bunnies gone astray. Fortunately, Lucas Nogueira was able to provide the kind of offensive savvy and hands so sadly lacking with Bismack Biyombo. Our neglected Brazilian centre has taken advantage of Jonas Valanciunas’ enforced absence to play significant minutes. Bebe also enjoyed a career high in points with 14, although a mere four rebounds in 24+ minutes was disappointing. It was Patrick Patterson who crashed the boards with a game-leading 10.

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Enough of the dry stats – this was a thrilling game, despite it being a loss. The turning point came early, when a combination of Raptor misses and Warriors long balls led to a 16-0 run. The Raptors were down by eleven, and that’s too much margin to allow a juggernaut like the Warriors.

Toronto never quit in this game. They pushed ahead by 3 on a pair of Scola free throws with 4:13 to play. Then Curry drained a 3-ball a few seconds later. Actually I could write that line a number of times – Curry is a backbreaker. What’s astonishing about his shooting is his quick release off both catch & shoot, and the dribble. And his shots are so pure, they often don’t even touch the rim; nothing but net.

Lowry has to be the Eastern Conference All-Star point guard. He’s been brilliant when not exhausted, as he clearly was against Phoenix. Against GS, he scored both from beyond the arc and under the basket, and added 7 assists and 4 steals. What else should he do – pump up the basketballs prior to the game? I shudder to think where we’d be without him.

Next: Are there players on the trading block of interest to Raptors?

Losing two games by a total of four points is not the start to the homestand the team was looking for. Monday night the Los Angeles


Lakers visit.