TORONTO — Andre Iguodala ran up the court with his arms outstretched. Stephen Curry slowly got up from under the basket. The Scotiabank Arena crowd sighed, as fans started streaming for the exits.
Just 13 seconds earlier, Danny Green had brought Toronto Raptors fans to their feet with a 3-pointer to cut what was once a double-digit Warriors lead to two, but on the next trip down the court, Curry escaped from a trap by Fred VanVleet and Pascal Siakam to find Shaun Livingston, who found Iguodala on the left break, where he sank his second 3-pointer of the night, icing a 109-104 win in Game 2 of the NBA Finals.
Facing a barrage of setbacks that would buckle most other teams — a sidelined Kevin Durant, an injured Kevon Looney, a dehydrated Stephen Curry, DeMarcus Cousins playing on one leg and a hamstring injury taking leading out scorer Klay Thompson — Iguodala, the other Warriors All-Stars and even the bench found enough championship chutzpa down the stretch to earn a road split, proving that Strength in Numbers isn’t just a slogan that tested well in a focus group
“I think that when you get to this stage … our DNA shows up,” Curry said. “It’s not something you just throw out there to have nice shirts and give out to the crowd at Oracle and have all this marketing stuff. It’s literally how we approach every day from training camp to June, how we support each other, how guys stay ready throughout the year, whether they play 30 minutes or miss 10 straight games out of the rotation.”
With 10 minutes to go in regulation, Thompson took a three against Danny Green and slipped as he landed. He fell into the splits, got up gingerly and kept playing, but as Golden State went back on defense following the second of back-to-back Quinn Cook 3-pointers, he pulled up lame. He would leave with eight minutes to go in the fourth quarter, looking angry and pained.
While Thompson’s 25 points on 10-of-17 shooting helped paper over a dismal shooting start — aside from Thompson, the rest of the Warriors went 9-of-30 in the first half as a dehydrated Curry went 0-for-6 — Golden State wound up getting contributions from most of the roster. The Warriors a near-triple-double from Draymond Green (17 points, 10 rebounds, nine assists), a double-double from Cousins (11 points, 10 rebounds) and 23 points from Curry, who hit six of his final 11 shots to finish with 23 points. They also got 25 points from the bench, led by nine from Cook.
Thompson accounted for the Warriors’ first nine points and shot 4-of-6 in the first quarter, and 2-of-2 from beyond the 3-point arc, while the rest of Golden State opened up 3-for-13 from the floor. Without Thompson, the first quarter wouldn’t have been as close as 27-26.
The Raptors peeled off a 15-4 run against the Warriors’ second unit to start the second quarter, getting up by as many as 12 as Curry continued to miss. Then, with four straight Curry makes — including a falling-back 24-foot three to get him going with 3:53 — the Warriors were able to creep back to within five by halftime, down 59-54.
“Just didn’t feel right at the start of the game, but at the end of the day, nothing’s going to keep you from playing in the Finals game, if you can help it,” Curry said.
“Steph was great closing out that half for us,” said Draymond Green. “We should have been down a lot more than five.”
Out of the break, with Looney sidelined due to a chest contusion, Golden State ran the ball through Cousins in the post, getting out in transition and pushing the tempo. Thompson found Iguodala to open the quarter for a quick 18-foot jumper, and then hit Curry for an 11-footer. He assisted on three of the first five field goals, while Cousins — making his first start since returning from a quadriceps tear six weeks ago — added the other two.
Iguodala got Golden State within two by nailing an uncontested three off a pass from Cousins with 10:11 to go in the third quarter, his first triple since Game 6 of the Western Conference Semifinals against the Houston Rockets, a string of 11 straight misses.
The Warriors went on an 18-0 run to start the half, getting up by as many as 13 and getting nine from the bench. Golden State went 14-of-25 shooting in the stanza, got an assist on every basket and out-scored the Raptors 34-21 as Toronto went 7-of-22. Though Kawhi Leonard scored 12 points, the rest of his teammates went 4-of-16.
After a pair of Cook 3-pointers helped fend off a charge from the Raptors to start the fourth, Curry came off the sideline to body bump him on the way back up the court. On the other sideline, Thompson clutched at his left leg, visibly pained and furious. He was soon taken off the court and headed to the locker room. Luckily for Golden State, in the fourth quarter, Cousins continued to assert himself.
In the first 10 minutes of the quarter, he tallied a block, four rebounds, four points and three of his six assists, clogging the paint on defense and helping to give the Warriors the arms-length lead they would need to withstand another late charge and the loss of Thompson.
Over the final eight minutes, with Thompson — one of Golden State’s best defenders — in the locker room, the Warriors held the Raptors to 3-for-16 from the floor, before Iguodala’s second three of the night sealed it.
Less than an hour before, he had been clutching his head as he headed to the locker room with 3:37 to go before halftime, after winding up on the business end of a Marc Gasol screen. He played the entire second half.
“It’s just a mindset,” Iguodala said. “I’m not saying it’s smart, but we’ve only got two weeks left. You’ve got to gut it out.”