TORONTO -- When Game 2 of the NBA Finals began at Scotiabank Arena between the Toronto Raptors and Golden State Warriors, Kevin Durant was watching in street clothes. By the time the game ended, Klay Thompson and Kevon Looney had joined him.
And yet, despite the Warriors losing three of their six best players to injury, despite the Raptors leading by 12 midway through the second quarter at home, and despite Kawhi Leonard going for 34 points and 14 rebounds in 39 minutes, Golden State managed to emerge with a 109-104 victory Sunday night, evening this best-of-seven series at a game apiece.
"We're in the same boat they kind of were in coming here," Raptors coach Nick Nurse said. "We got to go out there and get one.
"That's all we got to do is get one. And we can do that."
Nurse is right, of course. And the Raptors already found themselves down 2-1 in the second round to the Philadelphia 76ers and 2-0 in the Eastern Conference finals against the Milwaukee Bucks before rebounding to win both of those series to make it this far.
Still, it was impossible not to watch this game unfold and feel like it was one enormous missed opportunity to lay a massive blow to the two-time defending champions.
The injuries had Golden State reeling, and struggling to score. Over the final few minutes of the fourth quarter, Nurse -- with his high school coach and multiple teammates watching from the stands -- went to a defense he may have used in those days, a box-and-one, on Curry, the lone remaining scoring threat at Golden State's disposal.
Until Andre Iguodala hit a 3-pointer with seven seconds remaining, the Warriors didn't score against it. Meanwhile, though, the Raptors shot just 2-for-12 in the same stretch, failing to do just enough to reclaim a game they had looked on their way to winning at times in the first half.
That all changed, though, when Golden State opened the second half with an 18-0 run, during which Toronto missed all eight shots it took, and committed five turnovers to boot.
"We made a ton of mistakes," Kyle Lowry told ESPN. "That's one thing. We made a lot of mistakes we can fix, and I think that's the one thing we'll take from this.
"We will watch the film and get better, and that's all we can do right now."
That introspection will have to start with Lowry himself. Toronto's star point guard had a second straight bad game, scoring 13 points on 4-for-11 shooting and fouling out with 3:52 remaining on a bad reach-in on DeMarcus Cousins 92 feet from Golden State's basket.
Meanwhile, the rest of the Raptors other than Leonard didn't fare much better. Toronto shot 37.2 percent overall and 11-for-38 (28.9 percent) from 3-point range. Early foul trouble appeared to leave Toronto much more hesitant to play the kind of aggressive defense that has swarmed over each of the Raptors' opponents in the playoffs -- including Golden State in Game 1.
And the two players who were instrumental in Toronto's victory in the series opener, Pascal Siakam and Marc Gasol, were missing in action Sunday. Siakam shot 5-for-18 and scored 12 points after going 14-for-17 and scoring 32 in Game 1, while Gasol followed up a 20-point, seven-rebound showing by scoring six points and shooting 2-for-7 in 31 minutes.
"I think I missed a lot of layups and floaters and stuff like that that I usually make," Siakam said. "I think for the most part, it was that. I just couldn't get in a rhythm offensively.
"But that's basketball. You make shots one day, you miss some the other day. I take those shots all the time."
And, for all of the mistakes Toronto made, it still found itself with a chance to win. And after scrambling to trap (and foul) for most of Golden State's final possession, which began with 26.9 seconds remaining, the Raptors were perfectly fine with the ball winding up in Iguodala's hands -- after Leonard very nearly got a steal -- for a 3. Toronto didn't attempt to contest his shot, and, had he missed, the Raptors would've had a chance to either tie or win the game with a few seconds on the clock.
But, like most things that took place over the final 30 minutes of Game 2 for the Raptors, Iguodala didn't miss. Instead, he ended the game right there.
"We weren't disrespecting anybody," Nurse said. "We were up guarding hard, and we put two on Steph and he almost threw it right to Kawhi, right? It was pretty good defense -- they were scrambling around, running around like crazy.
"And they found Iggy, right, and they found him, and like I said, if he's going to take that and give us a chance to get the ball back and win the game, we're going to probably live with that. It wasn't like we were disrespecting him and not trying to guard him. We were in a trap and rotating out of there, and again, I would like to go back and try that again about 10 times, and see if one of them doesn't go our way."
Nurse likely would put the same percentages on the way the entire game played out. So many things were breaking in Toronto's favor -- the injuries, home court, a strong game from their star, a hot start and a double-digit lead in the first half. It looked like the Raptors were on their way to a 2-0 lead in this series.
But while Toronto didn't get the job done Sunday, there wasn't a feeling of hopelessness emanating from the Raptor locker room. Yes, Toronto let the game get away. But this team has bounced back in each of the past two rounds, and it expects to do so again.
"I think we are in a good spot," Lowry told ESPN. "We gave ourselves a chance. I think we have a lot of room to grow. We are in a position where we feel like we can do some things and we can make more plays, and if we make some shots in the third quarter, it's a different game."
The Raptors didn't make those shots, though -- and, thus, it wasn't a different game.