Inside the 18-0 Warriors run that evened the NBA Finals

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The Toronto Raptors entered halftime with a five-point lead, in position to take a commanding 2-0 series lead over Golden State in their first-ever NBA Finals. But the Warriors saved their season with a trademark third-quarter surge, starting the second half on an 18-0 run. It turned the tide in a momentum-shifting 109-104 victory that sends the reigning champions back home for Games 3 and 4, two games that could decide the series if the Warriors maintain control of the matchup.

“The third quarter,” Kyle Lowry said postgame. “We lost the game there.”

Beginning of third quarter: Raptors 59, Warriors 54

Klay Thompson was able to draw two defenders into the paint, freeing Andre Iguodala for an open mid-range jump shot.

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Next, Stephen Curry was able to get by Kyle Lowry to finish a floater on the left side of the rim.

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Here’s where things begin to get out of control — the “here we go again” moment in a basketball world that had seen this play in each of the past few seasons. DeMarcus Cousins takes a rebound all the way up the floor, then hits Iguodala in the corner for a wide-open three.

This play gave Golden State its first lead since early in the second quarter. When you were watching this game, you got the feeling this run wasn’t ending any time soon.

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How does Draymond Green get this wide open, in the middle of a critical third-quarter stretch? One of Curry’s most underrated skills is as a screen-setter, and you can see him pick Green to freedom on this play.

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What a pass here from Cousins. Yes, he’s one of the best scoring big men in then league, but he really sets himself apart with his court vision, especially the low block.

The icing on the cake was this open look from Klay Thompson, who sent Pascal Siakam into the spin cycle with a beautiful v-cut to the corner.

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Hats go off to Cousins and Thompson, for combining for six assists during Golden State’s stretch. The Warriors had 34 assists on 38 made field goals in Game 2. That just doesn’t make sense. It’s also championship basketball.

Without Kevin Durant, Golden State flexed its biggest muscle in Game 2: the ability to get stops on one end, leading to easy opportunity on the other. The other part of their championship DNA is overcoming early adversity, like a 12-point second-quarter deficit the Warriors turned into a 13-point advantage in the third.

Kawhi Leonard can take them.

But if we learned anything about this Warriors’ team, short-handed and all, it’s that they bounce back better than any team in the NBA. Their ridiculous third-quarter run was a reminder of something the world knew already. Now, they hold control of the NBA Finals, heading back to Oakland.

The Raptors had better get it together. They could be down 1-3 before they know what happened.

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