By JOHN LIKANJE
TORONTO, ON – The Golden State Warriors trailed by seven with 18.9 seconds remaining in the second quarter of Game 2 of the NBA Finals. Less than six minutes of game time later, they had a lead that they did not surrender.
In between, four of the Warriors’ Hamptons Five lineup (Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, Andre Igoudala and Klay Thompson) connected on eight of 12 shots from the floor. Golden State’s defense forced five turnovers and blocked two shots as part of an historic 20-0 run to grab home-court advantage going back to Oakland for Game 3.
“I thought just staying in the game at the end of the second quarter was also very important,” Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said during his postgame interview. “I think we were down 12 and the place was going nuts, we couldn’t score, and Steph and Klay both got loose and the game loosened up a little bit and we scored. We weren’t exactly making stops, but we cut the lead to five and could kind of breathe at halftime.”
Trailing 59-52 with 18.9 seconds left in the second quarter, Curry made a pair of free throws to end the first half. On the second possession of the third quarter, Thompson drove down the lane, drew a double team and passed to Igoudala, who swished a wide-open, left-corner jumper from inside the arc.
Curry, Igoudala and Thompson ran in transition off a Green steal. Thompson stepped toward the lane and kicked the ball to Curry at the left wing. Although Raptors guard Kyle Lowry closed out, Curry faked a three-point attempt and drove along the baseline for a floater off the window.
Warriors center DeMarcus Cousins brought the ball up the floor and swung it to a wide-open Igoudala in the right corner. Igoudala knocked down the three-pointer and gave the Warriors a 61-59 lead, their first since holding a 26-25 edge near the end of the first quarter.
Andre #SPLASH for the lead 💦
— Golden State Warriors (@warriors) June 3, 2019
Igoudala passed to Thompson on the left wing. At the same time, Curry made a L-cut from the left corner to the right wing and set a screen for Green. Green immediately cut to the basket and finished a layup off the feed from Thompson for a 63-59 edge.
“Just playing to the finish,” Curry told ESPN reporter Doris Burke after the game. “Everybody just stayed composed. They’re (The Raptors) a great team. They made runs. But that third quarter, we imposed our will, got stops on the defensive end and no matter how ugly it was down the stretch, we got it done.”
Thompson took advantage of his agility and scored the Warriors’ next seven points. Cousins received the ball on the right block from Igoudala. On the right wing, Thompson beat Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard to the rim and was awarded with a left-handed layup to extend the Warriors’ lead to 65-59.
Green dribbled to his left and drew three defenders, including Pascal Siakam, who was guarding Thompson. Thompson broke free, faked a cut towards the paint and rattled home a catch-and-shoot three-pointer over Siakam.
Thompson swung to Cousins on the left wing. Thompson beat Raptors guard Fred VanVleet in a foot race to the rim, received a bounce pounce from Cousins and finished another left-handed layup.
“He was special,” Curry said about Cousins. “Obviously getting more comfortable, more minutes and playing aggressive when he’s out there. Puts a lot of pressure on the defense and even on our defensive end, making his presence felt. Blocking shots, being in the right place at the right time. It’s a big lift for us.”
🇺🇸: ABC 🇨🇦: TSN pic.twitter.com/KGqcrwQHvS
— NBA (@NBA) June 3, 2019
Igoudala rebounded the ball, took off in transition and made a bounce back to a cutting Green for a layup to cap off the run and give the Warriors a commanding 72-59 advantage with 6:35 left in the third.
“We got stops,” Green explained during his postgame interview. “We took away their transition buckets and we got transition buckets. We always say we’re at our best when we’re — that’s our best offense when we’re getting stops and we’re pushing the ball.”
According to ESPN Stats and Info, the Warriors’ 20-0 run is the longest by any team in a Finals game since the NBA / ABA merger (1976-77). Golden State assisted on all 22 of their made field goals in the second half as well.
The Warriors shot 30-of-72 (41 percent) throughout the rest of the game as compared to 75 percent during the decisive run.
Game 3 will be on Wednesday at 9:00 p.m. at Oracle Arena in Oakland, California.
Transcriptions courtesy of ASAP Sports.