Don't Call it a Comeback (Game 2 Recap), by Rudy Ralph Martinez
“Andre Igoudala is the Robert Horry of our generation.”
These were the words of ESPN analyst Chauncey Billups, 2004 NBA Finals MVP, and lovingly remembered as “Mr. Big Shot” by Detroit Pistons fans.
For those that don’t know, Robert Horry was a crucial component of championship runs as a member of the Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Lakers, and San Antonio Spurs. It was as a Spur that Horry drained a huge three-pointer to give them a 3-2 series lead over Billups’ Pistons in the 2005 NBA Finals.
So, Billups knows clutch when he sees it.
His comment was in reaction to Igoudala’s game-clinching three-pointer with seven seconds left, which gave the Warriors a 109-104 victory over the Raptors as momentum and the series shift to Oakland for Games Three and Four. Igoudala, 2015 NBA Finals MVP, has been battling injuries while performing age-defying heroics for the Warriors.
Besides Igoudala, the Warriors received huge contributions from Quinn Cook, Andrew Bogut, and Demarcus Cousins, their off-season acquisition whom many viewed as a risky gamble heading into the season. Cousins finished with 11 points, 10 rebounds, and 6 assists, including several timely plays in the second half.
That the Warriors, playing in their fifth straight NBA Finals, won this game should come as no surprise. The Raptors smacked them on the mouth in Game 1 and they knew this was a must-win scenario. However, for most of the first half, it seemed the Raptors would continue to ride the wave of confidence they created in Game 1. The Warriors trailed by double-digits before the half and their offense looked stale, as a dehydrated Curry missed his first six shots. Yet they managed to cut Toronto’s lead to five by the end of the half.
Enter: the third quarter.
Many an NBA team has fallen victim to a Warriors third quarter run, especially during the playoffs. The Raptors were just their latest victims. The Warriors rattled off the first 18 points of the third quarter, holding the Raptors scoreless for nearly six minutes, a dry spell broken by a Fred VanVleet three-pointer with 6:20 remaining in the period. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the 18-0 run was the longest to ever begin a half in NBA history, another historical accomplishment for an all-time great team.
Though the Warriors have stolen homecourt, there are still several questions regarding health going forward. While the world awaits the return of Kevin Durant, who hasn’t practiced with the Warriors since going down with a calf injury in the second round, Klay Thompson and Kevon Looney both suffered injuries last night. Looney suffered a hard fall in the first half and did not return due to what appeared to be a chest or shoulder injury. Thompson, who kept the Warriors afloat in the first half, came down awkwardly after a three-point attempt early in the fourth quarter. He left the game with left hamstring tightness and is set to have an MRI today (06/03).
Injuries notwithstanding, it won’t matter who suits up for the Warriors, as a powerful display of “Strength in Numbers” has broken the Raptors’ wave of confidence.
And the next time the defending-champions will themselves back from a double-digit deficit with a flurry of threes and awe-inspiring transition plays, don’t call it a comeback, they’ve been here for years.