Raptors 125 76ers 89
TORONTO — Kawhi Leonard dunked and Serge Ibaka bled for the Toronto cause Tuesday.
The Raptors finished the first half with a 21-point lead over the Philadelphia 76ers, with an exclamation point dunk from Leonard paving the way to the dressing room.
It was a team effort — the first half and the dunk.
As Leonard began the play with less than 10 seconds remaining, Pascal Siakam moved out to force Jimmy Butler out of the picture. Marc Gasol and Danny Green retreated to the corner to draw defenders away.
As Leonard approached the three-point arc, Kyle Lowry — listed at six foot one and 196 pounds — circled around and set a screen on the seven-foot 250-pound Joel Embiid.
Leonard did the rest, rising majestically above Tobias Harris and James Ennis III to violently slam a one-handed dunk for a 64-43 lead with 2.6 seconds remaining in the half.
Leonard finished with 21 points, 13 rebounds and four assists as Toronto rolled to a 125-89 win and a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series. Ibaka, who had a rough start to the season, finished with 10 points off the bench.
Ibaka had six of those points in an explosive second quarter that saw the Raptors outscore Philadelphia 37-17.
He helped turn the tide with blood and sweat — if not tears — after taking an inadvertent elbow from Leonard.
The incident occurred under the Raptors basket with just under five minutes remaining in the first quarter. The six-foot-10 Ibaka, no shrinking violet when it comes to bodily contact, took the elbow to the forehead in a scrum of six bodies going for a rebound.
As play headed to the other end, Ibaka remained on one knee — blood from his forehead pooling in his hand.
Ibaka, a towel to his face, headed to the locker-room for treatment but was back on the bench with three stitches and a bandage on his forehead before the quarter ended.
He started the second quarter, stitches and all. And he drew cheers with a one-handed dunk for his first bucket.
“They make ‘em TOUGH up North,” the Raptors tweeted above a photo showing the plaster over a generous-sized hematoma above Ibaka’s left eye.
Ibaka looked more like a UFC fighter than an NBA player.
After a slight stumble to start the third quarter, Toronto built up the lead with a variety of highlight-reel plays.
Leonard finished out the third with another thundering dunk that sent the ball through the hoop and then off Embiid’s arm and head.
Courtside, Drake was like a Mexican jumping bean. In the fourth quarter, the star rapper/Raptors global ambassador and others in the crowd mimicked Embiid’s airplane celebration from Game 3.
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