Raptors outclass Celtics to stay alive in NBA playoffs

Friday, September 11th, 2020 00:00 |
Kemba Walker (left) of Boston Celtics attempts to dribble past Toronto Raptors’s Serge Ibaka during Game Four of the Eastern Conference Semi-finals of the NBA Playoffs on September 5, 2020 at The Field House at ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida. Photo/AFP

Miami, Thursday

With their season on the brink and title repeat hopes in jeopardy, the Toronto Raptors outfought Boston for a dramatic series-tying 125-122 double-overtime triumph Wednesday in the NBA playoffs.

Kyle Lowry led Toronto with 33 points and Norman Powell added 23 off the bench in an emotional thriller that resembled the intensity of a heavyweight boxing matchup.

The defending champion Raptors equalized the best-of-seven Eastern Conference semi-final with a winner-take-all game seven set for Friday, a conference final against Miami awaiting the winner.

“We play every possession like it’s our last and find ways to pull out victories,” an exhausted Lowry said after playing 53 minutes.

“That was two hard teams playing hard. Win or go home. Get it done. Don’t matter who has to do it. Ready for game seven.”

The Raptors won their first NBA crown last season but NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Kawhi Leonard left in the off-season for the Los Angeles Clippers, who defeated Denver 96-85 in a Western Conference semi-final to seize a 3-1 edge over the Nuggets.

Leonard just missed his first career NBA playoff triple double with 30 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists to spark the Clippers, who can advance with a victory Friday.

Powell made a crucial steal and fast break layup plus a free throw to lift Toronto ahead 121-117 with 38 seconds remaining.

“I was just really focused on the defensive end and let that spill over to the other end,” Powell said.

“I pride myself on making winning plays. The game called on me to be aggressive and that’s what I did. It’s what I play for. It’s what I pride myself in playing for.”

Boston’s Jayson Tatum answered with an inside jumper but Lowry hit a fall-away jumper -- Toronto’s sixth successful shot in a row -- to put the Raptors ahead 123-119.

Tatum sank a 3-pointer to pull Boston within a point with 6.2 seconds remaining but Powell sank two free throws and Marcus Smart missed a last-chance 3-pointer for Boston.

“We didn’t play as poised as we needed to down the stretch,” said Boston’s Jaylen Brown. “We didn’t take care of the ball as well as we needed to.   -AFP

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