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Kawhi Leonard gives Raptors life in old-school Game 4 win over 76ers

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PHILADELPHIA — Kawhi Leonard is a throwback player. No gimmicks. He would have been a star in the 50s, 60s, 70s – name your era. Silent, solid, simple.

It’s like watching a piece of machinery, gears well-oiled, roll along. Get in the way and take your chances. You will get caught in those gears and very likely lose a finger or worse. His off-switch is tough to find.

The Toronto Raptors came to Philadelphia looking for at least one win on their business. They failed to bring it in Game 3 and found themselves desperate in Game 4 on a rainy Sunday afternoon in front of a loud, hostile crowd.

And to their ever-lasting credit, they played like it. Except for Leonard, who played like he always does – like a advancing tank battalion.

In a game that would have looked perfectly in place in the Eastern Conference of the 80s or 90s, when paint battles were fierce and the wood considered an additional defender, Leonard calmly strung out a double-team before rising to knock down a deep, fading triple over a pair of Philadelphia 76ers defenders with 61 seconds on the clock to put the Raptors up by four.

For the first time in the afternoon, the crowd was silenced. What could they say? Some clutch free-throw shooting by Danny Green and the dagger was in and twisted, as the Raptors’ 101-96 win allowed them to head home with their second-round best-of-seven series tied 2-2 with Game 5 scheduled for Tuesday night.

The Raptors needed lots of things to go right given they were already starting the game with Pascal Siakam not at full speed with a bruised right calf. They needed someone else to step up offensively, they needed to play with the kind of passion missing in Game 3 and they needed to hope that all of that would be enough to bottle an emerging Sixers energy.

Leonard they could count on. His crowd-silencer gave him 39 points on 20 shots as his minimalist assault on playoff defences continued with no end in sight. He played 43 minutes, he was 5-of-7 from three and he........

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