NBA

Curry hails Warriors teamwork in the absence of Durant

By Sports Desk March 14, 2019

Stephen Curry praised his Golden State Warriors team-mates for standing up in the absence of Kevin Durant in their 106-104 victory over the Houston Rockets.

The Warriors were without the 10-time NBA All-Star for the trip to the Toyota Center but the likes of Klay Thompson and DeMarcus Cousins came to the fore in his absence.

Curry was also on form as the Warriors ended the Rockets' nine-game winning streak, the 31-year-old contributing 24 points, five assists and four rebounds.

But it was the team performance that particularly pleased Curry, given they were without the scoring ability of Durant.

"Understanding you are missing 28 points is tough," he said.

"But you got to do it by committee so myself, Klay and DeMarcus were being aggressive when we had the ball in our hands.

"Again, make or miss, we just tried to put pressure on them. Defensively was going to be the way we won this game.

"We weren't going to out score them, we had to buckle down and get stops and just try and control the tempo of the game as much as we could."

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    VanVleet flew to Illinois on Monday to witness the birth of his son Fred Jr, before hurrying back to Toronto for the Raptors' 120-102 Game 4 victory over the Bucks, which tied the series at 2-2.

    The 25-year-old went seven for 44 and three for 25 from three-point range since the start of the Conference semi-finals with the Philadelphia 76ers.

    However, in Game 4 he went five for six shooting and nailed all of his three-point attempts as he, Norman Powell and Serge Ibaka added 48 points from the bench.

    "It makes you tired," VanVleet said of the arrival of his second child. "It gives you a little perspective, I guess, on life.

    "I had a lot of time to think. Had to sit at the hospital all day, had a lot of time to think, obviously a plane ride back.

    "It just changes the way you're looking at things. You are not so down on yourself about everything."

    The bench's performance took the strain off Kawhi Leonard, with Toronto able to level things up despite the former San Antonio Spurs star tallying just 19 points after racking up 36 in their Game 3 win.

    "We know we have to be better," VanVleet added. "We see all the stuff. We understand what the narrative has turned into, that it is kind of 'Kawhi Leonard and The Backup Singers.'

    "We understand that. Sometimes it has been like that, and there's other stuff that goes into that. There's give and take there. But we have to do the same s*** again in Game 5."

    The Raptors are aiming to make the Finals for the first time in franchise history, with defending champions the Golden State Warriors awaiting the winner of the series.

    Leonard said of the production his team-mates delivered: "It was big time. Everybody contributed, knocking down shots, playing great defense.

    "[I] feel good. Keep going, keep fighting. We have a chance to make history."

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    The Toronto Raptors are putting together a quality run in the NBA playoffs.

    Toronto's 120-102 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday tied the Eastern Conference Finals at 2-2.

    Here are three takeaways from the Raptors' second consecutive win.

     

    Toronto are learning not to rely on Kawhi Leonard

    Leonard suffered an apparent leg injury in the Raptors' Game 3 victory and he lacked aggression in Game 4.

    The Raptors star scored 19 points on six-of-13 shooting. Before Tuesday, he had not attempted fewer than 18 shots in the series against the Bucks. Leonard has only attempted fewer than 13 shots once in the postseason so far – against the Orlando Magic in the first round.

    However, Milwaukee continued to double team Leonard, and his decoy role helped Toronto's bench explode for 48 points. The Raptors role players cannot be afraid to shoot the ball down the stretch if they want to advance to the NBA Finals, so this could be a blessing in disguise.

    Kyle Lowry is in attack mode 

    Lowry needs to assert himself early and often for the Raptors, and he did just that.

    The point guard was the most important part of Toronto's offense, as he shot a perfect 10-of-10 from the free-throw line and recorded a team-high 25 points.

    When Lowry is scoring on all three levels and bringing his usual peskiness on the defensive end, he gives the Raptors their best chance to come out on top.

    Milwaukee need to convert free throws

    The Bucks lost by 18 points, and they left nine at the free-throw line.

    Milwaukee only attempted one fewer free throw than the opposition, but shot an underwhelming 65.4 per cent to Toronto's 88.9.

    Giannis Antetokounmpo missed four of his 10 attempts from the line, and he will likely shoot plenty more moving forward as the centerpiece of the Bucks' offense.

    Getting back in Fiserv Forum could help Milwaukee's struggles, though.

    Game 5 will take place in Milwaukee on Thursday.

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    Toronto topped Milwaukee 120-102 to knot the series up at 2-2 and they got help from everywhere.

    Six Raptors were double-digit scorers. Kyle Lowry led the way with 25 points while Norman Powell and Serge Ibaka were essential bench contributors.

    Kawhi Leonard still showcased his authority in the paint despite battling an apparent leg injury. He was also able to lean on the support of his team-mates.

    Toronto's bench outscored Milwaukee's 48-23.

    Khris Middleton and Giannis Antetokounmpo combined for 55 points on 62.5 per cent shooting for Milwaukee.

    But six of the Bucks' players shot less than 40 per cent from the floor, which did not help Milwaukee's two All-Stars.

    Toronto are out of the 0-2 hole they dug themselves to start the series. Now, they have a chance to win on the road in Milwaukee on Thursday.

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