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Curry powers Warriors past Raptors 120-105

TORONTO – Hundreds of fans waited by the tunnel, waving Golden State Warriors jerseys to be signed by Stephen Curry or Klay Thompson. More held up cellphones, trying to get a photo of their basketball heroes.

If it wasn’t for the Toronto Raptors logo at centre court, Scotiabank Arena could have passed for San Francisco’s Chase Center.

Curry had 25 points on seven three-pointers to lead Golden State past the Raptors 120-105 on Friday as Toronto all-star Scottie Barnes left the game early with a broken hand. Curry embraced Raptors alumni Charles Oakley on the court after pulling down six rebounds and six assists to help the Warriors win their third straight.

“It’s always great to have a pseudo-homecoming kind of vibe here,” said Curry, who lived in Toronto from 1999 to 2002 when his father Dell Curry played for the Raptors. “A lot of great years, a lot of great memories.

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“It’s cool to see Oak here, being honoured and whatnot. Toronto’s a special place for my family, my journey and I always love coming back.”

Former UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov followed Thompson up the tunnel to the locker room as fans called out “Klay! Klay!” to try and get the former all-star’s attention for an autograph or a photo.

“Dub nation comes out when we go on the road,” said Draymond Green, who finished with six points and 13 rebounds. “It’s always special when you can get that home feeling, even when you’re on the road.

“And look no further than the Steph Curry effect. Play with Steph, you get a lot of that.”

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Curry also had six rebounds and six assists for the Warriors (32-27). Jonathan Kuminga had 24 points for Golden State (32-27) and Moses Moody added 17.

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The Warriors had significant delays flying from New York to Toronto after a 110-99 victory over the Knicks on Thursday. Golden State head coach Steve Kerr said the win underscored the mental toughness of his squad.

“Fantastic win. I mean, last night was brutal,” said Kerr. “That’s the worst travel circumstances I’ve ever been involved with in the NBA.

“I think we got in bed at 8 o’clock this morning.”

RJ Barrett of Mississauga, Ont., had 23 points for Toronto (22-38), with four assists and three rebounds. Barnes did not return to the court after intermission. He had 10 points and six rebounds in 16 minutes of play before his night ended.

The Raptors announced after the game that Barnes had fractured the third metacarpal bone in his left hand during the game.

“Obviously when you lose an all-star player in the game, that definitely changes a lot of things,” said Toronto head coach Darko Rajakovic. “We tried with different lineups, different players tonight, gave multiple players opportunities there.”

That included running centres Jakob Poeltl and Kelly Olynyk of Kamloops, B.C., at the same time. Both earned double-doubles as Poeltl had 10 points and matched a season-best 14 rebounds, while Olynyk had 16 points and 10 boards off the bench.

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The sold-out Scotiabank Arena crowd of 19,800 gave a small cheer when Curry hit his first three of the game about half way through the first quarter. It was his first game in Toronto since the 2019 NBA Finals when the Raptors beat the Warriors in six games.

Barnes didn’t come out after intermission and his absence was keenly felt. Golden State reeled off a 12-2 run shortly after the Raptors announced that the all-star forward would not return in the game for a 10-point lead.

Curry drilled a three-pointer just two minutes into the third quarter to tie the game 66-66. Olynyk answered with a tip shot, but then Thompson hit a corner three with 9:02 left in the third as Golden State took the lead for the first time since the game’s opening bucket.

Curry had nine points in the third — all on three-pointers — as Golden State outscored the hosts 32-19 in the quarter. He missed the first five minutes of the fourth as Kerr allowed his bench to maintain his team’s lead. Curry got another warm welcome from Raptors fans when he returned to the court.

He added two points in that limited time as Golden State led by as much as 16 points in the fourth.

FREEMAN-LIBERTY CONVERTED — Guard Javon Freeman-Liberty had his deal with the Toronto Raptors converted to a standard NBA contract an hour before game time. He’s averaged a team-high 24 points, 6.9 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 1.5 steals and 35.5 minutes with the Raptors 905, Toronto’s G League affiliate.

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UP NEXT — The Raptors host the Charlotte Hornets on Sunday. Golden State continues its East Coast swing with a stop in Boston against the Celtics.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 1, 2024.

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