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Leonard tows Raptors to conference finals

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Toronto Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard is congratulated after making the game-winning basket against Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (21) during the Game Seven of the second round of the 2019 NBA Playoffs at Scotiabank Arena. -- JOHN E. SOKOLOWSKI-USA TODAY SPORTS

KAWHI LEONARD hit a buzzer-beating jump shot that bounced up and around the rim before finally dropping through the net, and the Toronto Raptors defeated the visiting Philadelphia 76ers, 92-90, on Sunday night in the seventh and deciding game of their Eastern Conference semifinal.

Leonard finished with 41 points and eight rebounds, and the winning shot came after Jimmy Butler had tied the game on a layup with 4.2 seconds remaining.

Teammates swarmed Leonard along the baseline after his fall away shot from the right corner. Toronto advanced to face the Milwaukee Bucks in the conference finals. The Raptors are seeking their first NBA Finals appearance. Leonard hit a 24-foot jumper with 1:42 to play to give Toronto an 87-85 lead.

The Raptors led by four with 1:14 to play on a steal by Kyle Lowry, who set up Pascal Siakam for the layup.

Butler made one of two free throws, cutting the lead to three. With 12.1 seconds to play, Joel Embiid made two free throws to trim the lead to one.

Leonard made one of two free throws with 10.8 seconds remaining, and Butler tied the score at 90 on his layup.




Serge Ibaka provided 17 points and eight rebounds for the Raptors. Siakam had 11 points and 11 rebounds.

Lowry, who had an injured thumb taped in the first half, had 10 points, and Marc Gasol added seven points and 11 rebounds.

Embiid had 21 points and 11 rebounds for the 76ers. JJ Redick scored 17 points, Butler added 16, Tobias Harris scored 15 and grabbed 10 rebounds, and Ben Simmons finished with 13 points.

After the Raptors took a five-point lead early in the fourth quarter on Ibaka’s three-pointer, Embiid’s 3-pointer put the 76ers ahead by one point with 7:37 left.

The Raptors took a five-point lead on Leonard’s floating jumper and a free throw with 4:48 to go

But Redick nailed a jumper and hit the free throw to tie the game at 85 with 3:29 remaining.

The Raptors led 18-13 after one quarter and 44-40 at halftime.

Meanwhile, CJ McCollum scored 37 points, including a fadeaway jumper with 11.4 seconds left, and the Portland Trail Blazers rallied to beat the host Denver Nuggets 100-96 in Game 7 of the Western Conference semifinals also on Sunday.

The Nuggets with the win advanced to the Western Conference finals against the Golden State Warriors. — Reuters