Tue, May 14, 2019 - Page 16 News List

Kawhi Leonard bounces 76ers out of NBA playoffs

AP, TORONTO

AS Roma’s Edin Dzeko, front left, scores against Juventus in their Italian Serie A match at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome on Sunday.

Photo: EPA-EFE

Kawhi Leonard bounced, bounced, bounced, bounced the Philadelphia 76ers out of the playoffs.

Leonard on Sunday hit a shot from the corner over Joel Embiid at the buzzer that bounced off the rim four times before falling to give the Toronto Raptors a 92-90 victory over the 76ers in Game 7 of their Eastern Conference semi-final series.

It was the first winning buzzer-beater in a Game 7 in NBA history.

“It was great,” Leonard said. “That’s something I never experienced before, Game 7, a game-winning shot.”

“It was a blessing to be able to get to that point and make that shot, and feel that moment,” he added.

After Philadelphia’s Jimmy Butler tied it with a driving layup with 4.2 seconds left, Toronto used their final timeout to draw up a play for Leonard, who dribbled toward the right corner and launched the high-arching shot.

It bounced to the top of the backboard, hit the near side of the rim again, then the other side twice before going through, setting off wild celebrations as the Raptors advanced to the conference final for the second time in four seasons.

They open the conference final series at Milwaukee tomorrow.

“It’s tough,” Butler said. “Nobody likes to lose, not that way.”

Leonard scored 41 points on 16-of-39 shooting.

“He was awesome at both ends,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said. “That’s his uniqueness. Not only can he get you 30 and anywhere upwards from that, but there’s moments when he can just decide you’re not scoring, either.”

The Raptors ran a similar play for Leonard during the first round against Orlando. That time, he caught the ball and shot without dribbling.

“Remembering that moment, I knew I had some time to try to get some space, rather than just catch and shoot the ball,” Leonard said. “I ended up finding a spot that I like, that I work on. I just knew I had to shoot it high.”

Serge Ibaka added 17 points, while Pascal Siakam had 11 points and 11 rebounds for Toronto.

Embiid, in tears as he left the court, led the 76ers with 21 points and 11 rebounds. JJ Redick had 17 points, Butler added 16, while Tobias Harris had 15 points and 10 rebounds.

In Denver, Colorado, C.J. McCollum scored 37 points as the Portland Trail Blazers overcame a 17-point first-half deficit to beat the Denver Nuggets 100-96 in Game 7 and reach the Western Conference final series for the first time since 2000.

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