NBA: OG Anunoby's buzzer-beater snatches win for champions Toronto Raptors over Boston Celtics

MIAMI (AFP) – OG Anunoby drained a buzzer-beating three-pointer as the Toronto Raptors resuscitated their NBA title defence on Thursday (Sept 3) with a 104-103 victory over the Boston Celtics.

Kyle Lowry, tasked with inbounding the ball with half a second on the clock and the Raptors down 103-101, lofted a perfect arcing pass over Boston’s towering Tacko Fall to Anunoby on the opposite sideline.

“I had confidence in him,” Lowry said. “We’ll take that win.”

Anunoby set his feet and fired and the Raptors narrowed the deficit in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference semi-final series to 2-1 – avoiding an 0-3 hole from which no NBA team has come back to win a post-season series.

“We scrapped and clawed and fought,” said Lowry, who led the Raptors with 31 points, six rebounds and eight assists. “We never quit.”

Fred VanVleet scored 17 of his 25 points in the second half and Pascal Siakam scored 14 of his 16 after the interval and Anunoby contributed 12 points for the Raptors, who battled back from a 57-47 halftime deficit.

In a fourth quarter that saw seven lead changes – neither team leading by more than four points – Boston looked set to take a stranglehold on the series when centre Daniel Theis, fed by Kemba Walker’s savvy pass through traffic, slammed home a dunk for a 103-101 lead with 0.5 seconds on the clock.

During the ensuing timeout, Boston brought in Fall, who tops out at 2.26m, to defend the inbounds play, but he could not hold back the 2019 champions.

Walker led the Celtics with 29 points. Jaylen Brown added 19 with 12 rebounds and Jayson Tatum chipped in 15, but Boston have a series on their hands now.

“One game at a time,” Lowry said of the Raptors’ mindset as they look to level the series in the NBA’s Covid-19 quarantine bubble in Orlando, Florida.

“Great emotional moment right there (but) that’s over. Now we have to focus on the next game.”

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