Raptors take 2-1 NBA Finals lead over hobbled Warriors

Stephen Curry did his best to will his hobbled Golden State Warriors to victory on Wednesday.

But the challenge facing Golden State was too much for even the two-time MVP as the Toronto Raptors capitalized on Warriors injuries on both sides of the floor in a dominant 123-109 Game 3 win to take a 2-1 series lead in the NBA Finals.

Curry scored a playoff career-high 47 point to go with eight rebounds and seven assists in a one-man show that was no match for the balanced attack of Toronto, which saw six players score in double figures in a potent display of firepower, inside and out.

Cousins takes a step back

Meanwhile, the DeMarcus Cousins that helped spark Sunday’s Game 2 win was a non-factor in 19 minutes, scoring four points on 1-of-7 shooting from the field. Shaun Livingston — Thompson’s replacement in the starting lineup — matched Cousins’ output with four points on 1-of-4 shooting.

Simply put, this was not a championship-caliber lineup, and it showed in a 39.6 percent shooting performance. Toronto took advantage.

Raptors roll

Thompson’s offense was clearly missed. But it was his defensive prowess that Golden State may have needed more as the Raptors erupted from distance, hitting 17 of 38 3-pointers.

Kawhi Leonard led the way with 30 points, seven rebounds and six assists. But the Toronto superstar was one of several Raptors to take his turn playing a starring role on Wednesday.

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Photos and major moments from the 2019 NBA Finals
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Photos and major moments from the 2019 NBA Finals
Golden State Warriors guard Quinn Cook, left, passes the ball around Toronto Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard (2) during second-half basketball action in Game 5 of the NBA Finals in Toronto, Monday, June 10, 2019. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP)
Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant, left, falls over Toronto Raptors center Serge Ibaka, bottom, as Warriors forward Andre Iguodala (9) looks on during first-half basketball game action in Game 5 of the NBA Finals in Toronto, Monday, June 10, 2019. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP)
Golden State Warriors forward Andre Iguodala (9) stops Toronto Raptors guard Fred VanVleet (23) during the second half of Game 4 of basketball’s NBA Finals, Friday, June 7, 2019, in Oakland, Calif. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP)
Toronto Raptors guard Kyle Lowry (7) makes a layup as Golden State Warriors forward Jordan Bell (2) defends during the first half of Game 3 of basketball’s NBA Finals, Wednesday, June 5, 2019, in Oakland, Calif. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP)
Toronto Raptors center Marc Gasol (33) is defended by Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson, left, and center DeMarcus Cousins during the second half of Game 4 of basketball's NBA Finals in Oakland, Calif., Friday, June 7, 2019. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)
Toronto Raptors center Serge Ibaka (9) dunks against the Golden State Warriors during the second half of Game 4 of basketball's NBA Finals in Oakland, Calif., Friday, June 7, 2019. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar, Pool)
TORONTO, ONTARIO - JUNE 10: Kevin Durant #35 of the Golden State Warriors reacts after sustaining an injury during the second quarter against the Toronto Raptors during Game Five of the 2019 NBA Finals at Scotiabank Arena on June 10, 2019 in Toronto, Canada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ONTARIO - JUNE 10: Kawhi Leonard #2 of the Toronto Raptors attempts a shot against Klay Thompson #11 of the Golden State Warriors during Game Five of the 2019 NBA Finals at Scotiabank Arena on June 10, 2019 in Toronto, Canada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Pool - Nathan Denette/Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 05: Kyle Lowry #7 of the Toronto Raptors argues with Warriors minority investor Mark Stevens (blue shirt) after Lowry chased down a loose ball in the second half against the Golden State Warriors during Game Three of the 2019 NBA Finals at ORACLE Arena on June 05, 2019 in Oakland, California. According to to the Warriors, Stevens will not be in attendance for the remainder of the NBA Finals as they look further into the incident. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 05: Kawhi Leonard #2 of the Toronto Raptors attempts a shot against the Golden State Warriors during Game Three of the 2019 NBA Finals at ORACLE Arena on June 05, 2019 in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ONTARIO - MAY 30: DeMarcus Cousins #0 of the Golden State Warriors attempts to block a shot from Serge Ibaka #9 of the Toronto Raptors in the second half during Game One of the 2019 NBA Finals at Scotiabank Arena on May 30, 2019 in Toronto, Canada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ONTARIO - MAY 30: Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors attempts a shot against Marc Gasol #33 of the Toronto Raptors in the second half during Game One of the 2019 NBA Finals at Scotiabank Arena on May 30, 2019 in Toronto, Canada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Toronto Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard (2) drives to the net against Golden State Warriors guard Andre Iguodala (9) during the first half of Game 1 of basketball’s NBA Finals, Thursday, May 30, 2019, in Toronto. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP)
Toronto Raptors' Kawhi Leonard (2) drives to the basket as Golden State Warriors' Andre Iguaodala (9) defends during Game 1 of basketball's NBA Finals in Toronto on Thursday, May 30, 2019. (Gregory Shamus/Pool Photo via AP)
Toronto Raptors guard Danny Green (14) reacts after making a 3-pointer against the Golden State Warriors during the first half of Game 1 of basketball’s NBA Finals, Thursday, May 30, 2019, in Toronto. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP)
Toronto Raptors guard Kyle Lowry fouls Golden State Warriors centre Kevon Looney (5) during the second half of Game 1 of basketball’s NBA Finals, Thursday, May 30, 2019, in Toronto. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP)
Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) reacts during the second half of Game 1 of the team's basketball’s NBA Finals against the Toronto Raptors on Thursday, May 30, 2019, in Toronto. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP)
TORONTO, ONTARIO - JUNE 02: Marc Gasol #33 of the Toronto Raptors reacts to a foul call against the Golden State Warriors in the first half during Game Two of the 2019 NBA Finals at Scotiabank Arena on June 02, 2019 in Toronto, Canada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ONTARIO - JUNE 02: Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors is defended by Fred VanVleet #23 of the Toronto Raptors in the first half during Game Two of the 2019 NBA Finals at Scotiabank Arena on June 02, 2019 in Toronto, Canada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ONTARIO - MAY 30: Rapper Drake and Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors exchange words during a timeout in the first quarter during Game One of the 2019 NBA Finals between the Golden State Warriors and the Toronto Raptors at Scotiabank Arena on May 30, 2019 in Toronto, Canada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
Toronto Raptors' Kawhi Leonard (2) drives to the basket as Golden State Warriors' Andre Iguaodala (9) defends during Game 1 of basketball's NBA Finals in Toronto on Thursday, May 30, 2019. (Gregory Shamus/Pool Photo via AP)
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Fred VanVleet took Danny Green’s place in the starting lineup to begin the second half, presumably to help slow Curry, who had clearly become Golden State’s only hope. VanVleet provided the spark he so often has through this Raptors playoff run with some big shots in the third en route to 11 points that included hitting 3-of-6 3-point attempts.

His 3-pointer with 1:37 remaining as the shot clock expired ended any hope of a Golden State miracle.

Another Finals outburst from Green

Danny Green took advantage when he entered the game again with what’s become a trademark Finals performance for the role player who regularly came up with big games during the San Antonio Spurs’ most recent trips to the NBA’s championship round.

Green caught fire from distance in the third and finished shooting 6 of 10 from behind the arc, where he scored all 18 of his points.

This is what Masai Ujiri had in mind

Kyle Lowry continued to exorcise the playoff demons that haunted him in so many playoff exits at the hands of LeBron James, tallying 23 points, nine assists and four rebounds. He joined the 3-point party, hitting 5 of his 9 attempts and easily made up for some questionable first-half fouls that threatened to get him in foul trouble.

Pascal Siakam (18 points, nine rebounds, six assists) and Marc Gasol (17 points, seven rebounds, four assists) also shone when given the opportunity as the Raptors put on full display the formidable lineup general manager Masai Ujiri envisioned as he assembled what he hoped would be a championship roster.

So far, so good on that front.

The Raptors entered the night with a massive opportunity on the road against a neutered Finals opponent. They capitalized with a strong performance, averting what would have been the disaster of not taking advantage of the Warriors’ lineup woes.

And now they have control of the series. Game 4 will likely be a different story. Durant’s status remains a mystery. But with the prospect of going down 3-1 at home facing Golden State, there’s little chance Thompson sits again on Friday.

And as the Raptors demonstrated on Wednesday, Golden State’s going to need him.

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