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Kawhi Leonard gives Raptors a chance to write a new story

1 54 0
13.05.2019

TORONTO — Bounce. Bounce. Bounce. Bounce.

In.

Win.

It’s not a Dr. Seuss rhyme, but it’s a storybook ending unlike any you’re likely to see at Scotiabank Arena or anywhere else, anytime soon.

With one fading, arching shot over all seven-feet of Joel Embiid, Kawhi Leonard rewrote one of the most memorable and painful moments in Toronto Raptors history – anyone remember Vince Carter’s jumper getting-nothing-but-iron in a loss to the Philadelphia 76ers in Game 7, oh, about 18 years ago?

There’s a new memory burned into every Raptors fans’ cerebral cortex for the next 18 years and likely much longer. A happy one.

Game tied, 4.2 seconds left, Leonard driving hard to his right, shedding six-foot-10 Ben Simmons, running out of real estate before finally rising up and letting it go.

It took a while. Leonard had time to squat down as everyone in the building held their breath and then rise up as everyone in the building – his mobbing teammates included – lost their minds.

With their 92-90 win Toronto advances out of the second round for the second time in franchise history. The win avoids questions of ‘what next’ for at least two more weeks.

“I didn’t have a really good angle on it,” said Kyle Lowry of Leonard’s shot “[Kawhi] got to his spot and shot it high enough to give it a chance, it bounced and it went in. For us it’s another step towards our goal.

“It was a real-life game winner, Game 7 where you count it down like back home.”

And for the first time in a week, maybe a lot more, it feels like everyone can relax.

Breathe.

If the 2018-19 season is the biggest gamble in franchise history, going back to the trade that made Leonard a Raptor for at least one season, they have at least broken even. They can start playing with house money – lots of it – if they can somehow get past the Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference Finals and start entertaining a run at an NBA title.

We’ll see.

But at least they made it this far; at least they didn’t squander as big a stake as you can start with in the NBA – ‘Playoff Kawhi’ – by crapping out in the second round, busted and heartbroken.

It was close though. Very close. For a moment it even seemed like the ultimate indignity was at hand – the Raptors might lose because of Leonard who was an ugly – for him –........

© Sportsnet