(REUTERS) - Missing two key pillars of their starting line-up, the Golden State Warriors had to turn to two-time Most Valuable Player Stephen Curry against the Toronto Raptors in Game 3 of the NBA Finals in Oakland on Wednesday (June 5).
He obliged and gave them 47 points and six three-pointers while playing nearly the entire game but it was not enough.
The two-time defending champions fell 123-109 to the visitors and now trail 2-1 in the best-of-seven series as the team's other starters could only muster 36 points combined.
Despite playing without shooting guard Klay Thompson (hamstring) and forward Kevin Durant (calf), Warriors coach Steve Kerr said the team could still hold their head high.
"Very proud," he told reporters when asked about the team's effort, which included players diving for loose balls and sacrificing their bodies to take charges on defence.
"They played really, really hard and gave it everything they had and just ran into a better team tonight."
Curry echoed Kerr's comments and said the team, who play under the motto Strength In Numbers, would not use the injuries as an excuse.
"The moment is now. You got to try to have 'next man up' mentality, like we always say, and just go out and fight," he said.
"We did that tonight. We can play better, obviously better on the defensive end, but I liked the competitiveness that we had, understanding that we're missing 50 points pretty much between KD and Klay.
"So we'll adjust. And it's a long series you know. It's going to be fun for us."
Forward Draymond Green said he also liked his team's effort and struck an optimistic tone.
"Win the next game, go back to Toronto, win Game Five, come back to Oracle, win Game Six and then celebrate.
"Fun times ahead."
The Raptors stole the show with a complete effort that spotlighted their versatility.
"When you lose an All-NBA type basketball player in Klay and an All-Star, it definitely changes their team," said Toronto point guard Kyle Lowry, emphasising the team's sense of urgency to win Game 3.
He was at his playmaking best, guard Danny Green rained down six three-pointers, forward Pascal Siakam slashed through the defence and reserve Serge Ibaka swatted away six blocked shots.
Toronto fired away 38 three-pointers on the night, looking more like the Warriors than the Warriors themselves.
"Our offence wasn't very good in Game 2. We tried to play with more pace up the court, and we tried to play with more pace in the half court," Raptors coach Nick Nurse said.
"I thought you just saw a lot more cutting and passing, obviously 30 assists, you saw a lot more shots go in, that helps, right?"
The Warriors could have both Durant and Thompson return for Game 4 on Friday, but the Raptors have proven that their collective can stand firm against any All-Stars.
"We'll be ready for whoever plays," Raptors big man Marc Gasol said. "If it's Kevin, if it's Klay, whoever it is. We're going to have a game plan for them and we're going to try to execute it accordingly."
Kerr tipped his hat to Curry, who had a career play-off high in points despite being aggressively double-teamed throughout the contest.
"Steph was incredible. He does things that honestly I don't think anybody has ever done before," he said.
"The way he plays the game, the way he shoots it and the combination of his ball handling and shooting skills, it's incredible to watch.
"He was amazing."