OAKLAND (California) • The message on the chalkboard in the Toronto Raptors' locker room on Wednesday night was short and to the point: "Let it rip".
Coincidentally, it was exactly what Golden State were trying to avoid with Klay Thompson's strained left hamstring.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr, prioritising caution before Game 3 of the National Basketball Association (NBA) Finals at the Oracle Arena, decided at the last minute Thompson would not play.
The two-time defending champions were already missing Kevin Durant indefinitely and Kevon Looney for the rest of the series.
That allowed the Raptors to take advantage of the Warriors' depleted line-up, surviving everything that Stephen Curry could throw at them in a 123-109 victory to clinch a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series and are now two wins from their first title.
Kawhi Leonard led Toronto with 30 points, while Kyle Lowry finished with 23 points and nine assists. Danny Green shot six of 10 from three-point range to finish with 18 points.
"I think Danny's buckets boosted our whole team's confidence," Raptors coach Nick Nurse said.
Without Thompson and Durant, who together average more than 50 points a game in the play-offs, Curry tried to carry the Warriors by setting a career play-off record with 47 points while shooting 14 of 31 from the field. He also had eight rebounds and seven assists.
Draymond Green added 17 points for Golden State. It remains to be seen whether the Warriors will get some reinforcements in time for Game 4 today, although Kerr did offer a promising update on Durant's status before Wednesday's loss.
Durant, the star forward who has been sidelined since he strained his right calf on May 8, was expected to train yesterday.
As for Thompson, he had lobbied hard to play in Game 3. He even did some pre-game shooting as fans began to file into the arena. But Kerr held him out.
"The whole point was to not risk a bigger injury that would keep him out of the rest of the series," Kerr said, admitting the guard may return for Game 4.
"So that was the decision we made. Never would I have forgiven myself if I played him tonight and he had gotten hurt."
Points Stephen Curry scored in a losing cause for Golden State. Only LeBron James (51) has more in Game 1 of last year's NBA Finals.
Curry knew he would need to take a ton of shots, and he obliged, scoring 12 of his team's first 14 points. But the first half was so bleak for the Warriors that the Raptors went scoreless for nearly five minutes of the second quarter yet emerged with a 13-point lead.
Golden State rallied after half-time, several times trimming the deficit to single digits, but the Raptors kept responding.
The Warriors had won Game 2 in Toronto last Sunday to even the series but paid a steep price.
Thompson strained his hamstring when he landed awkwardly after attempting a three-pointer, and Looney, a reserve forward who was playing big minutes off the bench, collided with Leonard and suffered an injury near his collarbone.
"We'll adjust," Curry insisted. "And it's a long series you know. We fought, but we lost. So we got to go back to the drawing board and just recalibrate for Game 4. We're going to compete no matter what happens, you can count on that."
NYTIMES, REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE