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Historic buzzer beater sends Toronto to East finals to face Bucks

By
Clyde Hughes

May 13 (UPI) -- In what may go down as one of the most unlikely shots ever to win an NBA playoff series, the buzzer beater from Toronto star Kawhi Leonard bounced around the rim before falling -- sending the Raptors to the Eastern Conference Finals with a 92-90 Game 7 win over the Philadelphia 76ers Sunday.

Leonard scored a game-high 41 points, but none more important or as suspenseful as the game winner.

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Philadelphia tied the game at 90 with a driving layup with 4.2 seconds left after Leonard missed his second of two free throws, as fans prepared for overtime. After a timeout, Leonard took the ball, rolled close to the right baseline and launched a contested off-balanced shot from the right corner over 76ers center Joel Embiid. The shot was short, but bounced off the side of the rim and almost straight up before hitting the rim two more times and falling through the net.

Leonard and his teammates celebrated wildly after the strange jump shot amid deafening cheers from Toronto fans.

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"I ended up catching it and just trying to get to a space so I could get the shot off," Leonard said. "Embiid was guarding me. But he's taller and longer than me, so I ended up finding a spot that I like ... that I work on. I knew I had to shoot it high. A couple of possessions before that I had the same kind of shot from 3 and it ended up coming short. I had to put it up even higher than that."

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Leonard is in his first year with Toronto, after a trade last year sent him north from San Antonio, where he'd won an NBA championship with the Spurs.

Philadelphia coach Brett Brown said he knew the entire time Leonard's shot would go in.

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"It didn't surprise me that it went in," he said. "When it hits at that angle and it goes kinda straight up, you feel like there is a chance that it is actually going to go in. Not to pretend like you can forecast anything, it didn't surprise me that it ended up falling in."

The Raptors, the Eastern Conference's No. 2 seed, will meet the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks for the conference title. Game 1 is set for Wednesday in Milwaukee.

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