OAKLAND, Calif. — The more the Toronto Raptors were around Kawhi Leonard this season, the more they took on his personality.
By time the playoffs arrived, the Raptors were all business — resolute, relentless, resilient with a stone-faced calm. Never rattled, not even on the road against the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals.
"His demeanor has kind of taken a big part of our team," Raptors guard Kyle Lowry said. "And we have some guys that are fiery and feisty, but we all kind of just stay level-headed and never get too up, never get too down."
That even-keeled persona, led by Leonard’s consistently wonderful effort, propelled the Raptors to their first championship in the franchise’s 24-year history.
Toronto defeated Golden State 114-110 in Game 6 on Thursday, putting the exclamation mark on an unexpected championship.
It was a wild finish to a game that had 18 lead changes and nine ties.
Golden State had a chance to take the lead trailing 111-110 with 9.6 seconds left. Steph Curry missed a 3-point attempt and there was a mad scramble for the basketball. The Warriors called a timeout they didn’t have and were issued a technical foul.
Raptors guard Kyle Lowry had 26 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds, Pascal Siakam had 26 points and 10 rebounds, and Leonard added 22 points.
It was a team effort. Fred VanVleet had 22 points and Serge Ibaka 15 off the bench.
Golden State simply ran out of bodies. Kevin Durant was out, and Klay Thompson — after scoring 30 points — missed the final 14 minutes, 22 seconds with a left knee injury.