Kawhi Leonard hit a buzzer-beating jump shot that bounced up and around the rim before finally dropping through the net, and the Toronto Raptors defeated the visiting Philadelphia 76ers 92-90 on Sunday night in the seventh and deciding game of their Eastern Conference semifinal.
“It was short, then it was long, then it was in,” Toronto’s Marc Gasol said of the shot.
“It was like a movie moment,” added Fred VanVleet.
Leonard finished with 41 points and eight rebounds, and the winning shot came after Jimmy Butler tied the game on a layup with 4.2 seconds remaining.
Teammates swarmed Leonard along the baseline after his fall-away shot from the right corner. He let out a scream as fans danced in the stands.
“Pretty much I’m a guy that acts like I’ve been there before. So probably the last time you’ve seen me scream was when we won (the NBA title with San Antonio in 2014),” Leonard said.
“Whenever it’s a moment that I haven’t really experienced, I’ll try to show some emotion and let it come out. Tonight was one of those nights. It was a great feeling.”
Toronto advanced to face the Milwaukee Bucks in the conference final. The Raptors are seeking their first NBA Finals appearance in franchise history.
“That was just a great shot,” Toronto’s Pascal Siakam said of the game-winner. “I don’t know what to say. Watching it, it was amazing. It looked good and then it hit the rim. … Shout-out to Philly. They played a great series.”
The 76ers’ Joel Embiid was emotional after the loss.
“I felt like we had a chance,” he said. “A lot of things go through your mind and it just sucks.”
Leonard hit a 24-foot jumper with 1:42 to play to give Toronto an 87-85 lead.
The Raptors led by four with 1:14 to play on a steal by Kyle Lowry, who set up Siakam for the layup.
Butler made 1 of 2 free throws, cutting the lead to three. With 12.1 seconds to play, Embiid made two free throws to trim the lead to one.
Leonard made 1 of 2 free throws with 10.8 seconds remaining, and Butler tied the score at 90 on his layup.
Serge Ibaka provided 17 points and eight rebounds for the Raptors. Siakam had 11 points and 11 rebounds.
Lowry, who had an injured thumb taped in the first half, had 10 points, and Gasol added seven points and 11 rebounds.
Embiid had 21 points and 11 rebounds for the 76ers. JJ Redick scored 17 points, Butler added 16, Tobias Harris scored 15 and grabbed 10 rebounds, and Ben Simmons finished with 13 points.
After the Raptors took a five-point lead early in the fourth quarter on Ibaka’s 3-pointer, Embiid’s 3-pointer put the 76ers ahead by one point with 7:37 left.
The Raptors took a five-point lead on Leonard’s floating jumper and a free throw with 4:48 to go
But Redick nailed a jumper and hit the free throw to tie the game at 85 with 3:29 remaining.
The Raptors led 18-13 after one quarter and 44-40 at halftime.
–Field Level Media