The Dallas Cowboys Beat The Saints Los Angeles Lakers vs Indiana Pacers Full Game Highlights, Kevin Durant and Kawhi Leonard Battle in Toronto

Raptors have a superstar ready to duel with best in Leonard

TORONTO -- The Toronto Raptors had seen this movie before.

When Kevin Durant hit a completely absurd turnaround fall-away 3-pointer in the corner to tie the game at 119 in the final seconds of regulation, he completely wiped away what had been an 18-point Raptors lead. In the moment, it seemed like the cap on another night of succumbing to pressure for a franchise that has become synonymous with falling apart when the lights are brightest.

Durant forces OT with two contested 3s

Kevin Durant knocks down a 3-pointer in Kyle Lowry's face, then fades away from the corner to tie the game at 119-119 with 8 seconds left.

But these are not the same, old Raptors. That team would've folded when Durant forced overtime. But that team didn't have Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green.

So yes, this was only November, and yes, the Raptors should not have put themselves in the position they wound up in, the result -- a 131-128 victory at Scotiabank Arena against a Golden State Warriors team that was admittedly without Stephen Curryand Draymond Green -- was a step in the direction this team needs to take if it wants to face the Warriors again in June.

"I think that when a team gets kind of dragged into overtime like that ... a lot of times, that team will feel sorry for themselves, and not come out and play," Raptors head coach Nick Nurse said. "We didn't [do that]. I was proud of them for that, to take the emotional punch there in the gut, and take a few deep breaths there at the end of the game and go back out there and play the overtime the way they did."



The win pushed the Raptors to an NBA-best 19-4 this season and improved their current winning streak to a season-best seven games. But it also exposed all of the flaws that have so many questioning whether Toronto -- despite its record -- truly is the favorite to get out of the East.

Kyle Lowry, one of the main culprits in those collapses of the past, didn't allow himself to shoot a wide-open 3-pointer with three minutes to go, and was a dismal 4-for-14 on the night. Toronto, in general, felt like a team that was struggling to breathe as it attempted to move to heights it hadn't reached before.

But this time, the Raptors had a pair of players, in Leonard and Green, who have been in every possible situation on a basketball court before. They've played in the crucible that is the NBA Finals -- and came out the other side with rings on their fingers.

In many ways, their former team, the San Antonio Spurs, is everything these Raptors haven't been. For two decades, San Antonio has been basketball's version of the New England Patriots -- a team that, no matter who is playing or what is happening, can be expected to find a way to win.

The Raptors have been a team longing for precisely that. And, Thursday night, they began to see what the benefits of injecting some of that Spurs culture into this franchise's veins can provide.

Leonard was, of course, sensational, putting up 37 points, 8 rebounds and 3 assists while going 14-for-24 from the floor. It was his best, most complete performance in a Raptor uniform, as he and Durant put on what arguably was the show of the season thus far.


Duel at Jurassic Park

Kevin Durant was 6-of-9 from the field in 13 plays when Kawhi Leonard was his primary defender. Kawhi Leonard was 2-of-7 from the field in 9 plays with Kevin Durant as his primary defender. Here is a look at each player's offense with the other defending in the half court, per ESPN Stats and Information.


KEVIN DURANT KAWHI LEONARD
Plays 13 9
FG 6/9 2/7
3-pt FG 2/2 0/3
TO 1 0
Pts/play 1.46 0.89>>
>> Leonard: 1.41 points per play when defended by Warriors other than Durant in half court

But it was Green who hit the biggest shot of the game -- a 3-pointer with 2:07 remaining in overtime that put Toronto ahead for good. In the past, it would've been a struggle to find someone trustworthy enough in a Raptor uniform to shoot that kind of shot and expect it to go in.

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"That's the challenge I've been kind of battling with since the season started," James said after scoring a game-high 38 against the Pacers. "How much do I defer and allow some of our young guys to figure out, and how much do I try to take over games?"

LOS ANGELES -- If it seems as if LeBron James has been shouldering a disproportionate part of the load for the Los Angeles Lakers so far this season, that's because he has. The four-time MVP admitted after Thursday's 104-96 win over the Indiana Pacers on Thursday that he has struggled with striking the right balance between initiating the attack and relying on his teammates to take over."That's the challenge of things I've been kind of battling with since the season started," James said after scoring 38 points in 38 minutes against Indiana, adding 9 rebounds and 7 assists. "How much do I defer and allow some of our young guys to kind of try to figure it out, and how much do I try to take over games? I think tonight was one of those instances where they looked at me and they wanted me to close the game."

He did just that, checking in with 7 minutes, 28 seconds left in the fourth quarter with the Lakers clinging to a four-point lead after leading by as many as 24 in the first half. With James leading the charge by scoring 12 points in the period, L.A. pushed the lead back to double-digits and secured the win, snapping a two-game skid to improve to 12-9.

Seeing James take over a game is nothing new, but earlier in the day Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson said L.A. is trying to manage its star differently than the Cleveland Cavaliers did last year.

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ARLINGTON, Texas -- Drew Brees and the historic New Orleans Saints offense came crashing back down to earth Thursday night as their 10-game win streak was snapped by the Dallas Cowboys in a 13-10 slugfest.


Forget "Jerry World." This was more like "Bizarro World."

Brees, who is having one of the best quarterback seasons in NFL history, completed just 18 of 28 passes for 127 yards, one touchdown and a stunning interception with 2 minutes, 8 seconds left when the Saints were still trailing by three points.

And the Saints, who were averaging an NFL-best 37.2 points per game, gained only 176 total yards while falling to 10-2 on the season -- a half-game behind the Los Angeles Rams in a tight NFC race.

"I felt like we didn't really find a rhythm for pretty much the whole game," said Brees, whose 127 passing yards were his second fewest when he played a full game in 13 years with the Saints. "I guess we may have had one decent drive. ... So credit to them."

Brees said he doesn't think the Saints lost their focus coming into the game.

"No. This was the next game, it was a big game. It was the most important game of the season because it was a big game," Brees said. "We just came out and didn't play with the tempo and rhythm, I think, that we're used to."



The Cowboys, meanwhile, won their fourth consecutive game to climb to 7-5 on the season by manhandling the Saints all night (as Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence colorfully suggested they would try to do earlier this week).

Brees started the game 0-for-4 passing for the first time in his 18-year career. And it never really got better than that. The Saints' only touchdown came on a drive when the Cowboys were assessed with 41 penalty yards, including roughing the punter.

"[The Cowboys] played a heck of a game, deserved to win the game. ... It starts with us as coaches, the plan going in," coach Sean Payton said. "There will be a lot we watch on tape, and regret certain plays. But before we get into any of that, you really gotta tip your hat to the way they played."

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Post Up: Kevin Durant and Kawhi Leonard Battle in Toronto

 

Warriors 128 (15-8), 131 (19-4)

Two of the game’s best squared off in Toronto, with Kevin Durant and Kawhi Leonard both leading their teams in hopes of a win. Durant dropped 51 points, including the bucket to send it to OT, but Leonard came out on top with 37 points and the win as the Raptors stepped up in overtime.

Embedded video

SLAM
@SLAMonline

HOW ON EARTH KD?? (via @warriors)

Los Angeles Lakers vs Indiana Pacers Full Game Highlights 

Pacers 96 (13-9), Lakers 104 (12-9)

The Pacers kept themselves in the game even despite the absence of Victor Oladipo, but LeBron James was too much to overcome. James posted a near triple-double with 38 points, nine rebounds and seven assists. LeBron also moved into third all-time for most 30-point games in NBA history with 436 on an and-1 late in the fourth quarter.


Embedded video

SLAM
@SLAMonline

With this bucket, LeBron now has the third-most 30-point games in NBA history with 436 👑 (via @NBA)


Clippers 133 (15-6), Kings 121 (10-11)

A tight contest in Sacramento saw the Clippers pull away late in the fourth quarter, their ninth win in their last ten games. Tobias Harris (28 points) and Montrezl Harrell (24 points) led L.A. to the win with scoring and hustle. Kings rookie Marvin Bagley left the game with back tightness and did not return.


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