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Raptors hold off Warriors in heavyweight clash

Lakers and Clippers register wins

The Toronto Raptors withstood a 51-point performance from Kevin Durant to beat two-time defending champions Golden State 131-128 in overtime on Thursday in a game billed as a possible NBA Finals preview.

Kawhi Leonard scored 37 points and Pascal Siakam added a career high 26 for the Raptors, who notched a seventh straight victory to improve their league-leading record to 19-4 in front of a jubilant home crowd.

“It’s a building block for us,” Leonard said. “We were able to make shots, we were able to get some stops in overtime. I’m happy we got the win.”

The Warriors, playing without injured stars Stephen Curry and Draymond Green, fell to 15-8 as they endured their fifth straight road defeat.

They’re a game behind Western Conference leaders the Los Angeles Clippers, who beat the Kings 133-121 in Sacramento on the second night of a back-to-back.

Elsewhere in the West, LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers bounced back from their biggest defeat of the season – a 117-85 loss to the Denver Nuggets – with a 104-96 victory over the Indiana Pacers.

After building a 23-point first-quarter lead the Lakers saw the Pacers battle back to briefly take the lead in the third quarter. But James came through in the clutch, scoring 12 of his 38 points in the last five minutes.

‘That’s what I’m here for’

“That’s what I’m here for,” said James, a three-time NBA champion who joined a developing Lakers team as a free agent prior to the season.

James had nine rebounds and seven assists as he rebounded from a season-low 14 points in the loss at Denver.

In Toronto, Durant notched his third straight game of at least 40 points – a first in his career. Klay Thompson added 23 points and Jonas Jerebko produced 16 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter and overtime as the Warriors erased a double-digit deficit only to come up short.

‘Incredible game’

“An incredible basketball game for the fans to watch,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “We came up just short.”

The first half had offered little to predict the late-game drama as the Raptors jumped to an early lead.

The Raptors led 67-58 at halftime. They took a 96-88 lead into the final period and were up by 10 with less than five minutes to play.

Despite the hype surrounding the early season clash with the reigning champs, Lowry said the victory shouldn’t change Toronto’s approach. AFP

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