TORONTO: Kawhi Leonard scored a career playoff best with 45 points and grabbed 11 rebounds as the Toronto Raptors defeated the visiting Philadelphia 76ers 108-95 Saturday night in the opening game of their Eastern Conference semifinal.
Pascal Siakam added 29 points and seven rebounds for the Raptors and Kyle Lowry added nine points and eight assists.
JJ Redick had 17 points for the 76ers. Joel Embiid chipped in with 16 points and eight rebounds, while Tobias Harris had 14 points and 15 rebounds.
Ben Simmons also had 14 points with nine rebounds, James Ennis III had 11 points and Jimmy Butler had 10. The Raptors led by as many as 19 points and took an 11-point lead into the fourth quarter.
Leonard’s 14-footer had the Raptors leading by 18 with 7:06 remaining. The lead reached 20 on Leonard’s jumper with 4:17 to play.
The Raptors opened a lead of 14 points during the first quarter but settled for a 39-31 advantage entering the second quarter.
The 76ers continued to chip away and drew within one point when Harris hit a jumper with 8:02 left in the half.
The Raptors then reeled off nine straight points and led by 10 when Leonard made a pair of free throws with 5:44 remaining.
The Sixers pulled back to within seven points, but the Raptors led by 11 with 2:45 to go in the half on Leonard’s running layup.
A cutting dunk by Simmons completed the first-half scoring with the Raptors leading 61-52. Leonard had 27 first-half points and Siakam had 22. Harris and Embiid each had 12 first-half points for Philadelphia.
Redick started the second half with a 3-pointer to trim the lead to six points. His fourth 3-pointer of the third quarter cut the lead to four points with 8:48 remaining.
The Raptors pulled away again and Leonard’s 3-pointer had them ahead by 17 with 6:02 left in the third. But Ennis hit a 3-pointer to reduce the margin to 11 at the 4:45 mark.
The Raptors pulled away again and led by 19 on Leonard’s pull-up jumper with 1:34 to play before Redick answered with his fifth 3-pointer of the quarter. The Raptors led 92-81 after three quarters.