The Raptors desperately needed a win, & played like they wanted one for 36 minutes. Sadly, those pettifogging people who run the NBA insist on 48-minute games, & the Raps were Clipped badly in the last 12. Surprise, surprise – another loss.
Q1 was akin to the early rounds of a boxing match between two unfamiliar opponents. There was much pirouetting, & difficult fadeaways late in the shot clock, from both teams. The Raps headed to the dressing room with a 3-point bulge, created by an 11-0 run to end Q2. On the Clippers’ last 6 trips, they were one-&-done 4 times, & turned the ball over twice. Even though the Raps shooting was bad to start the second half (a portent of things to come), Linas Kleiza hit some 3s, & the game was knotted at 65 when Chris Paul received a pass outside the arc. Kyle Lowry didn’t challenge, so Paul launched a nothing-but-net 3-ball, & the Clips never trailed again. In fact, the score from the point the ball left Paul’s hands was 37-18 Los Angeles. The game was not out of reach by the start of Q4, as the Raps were down 4. They crept back within 2 on a DeRozan offensive rebound of his own miss, with 9 minutes to play. From that point, until Linas Kleiza hit a meaningless 3-ball on the last play of the game, the Raps were outscored 21-1. Coach Casey gave the second unit a chance to hold the fort, & they surrendered it. I cannot remember a Raps team that has suffered through so many pitiful scoring quarters in such a short time as this edition. We’ve seen a 5-pointer, a 7, & now a 10.
Mikeal Pietrus’ sore knee acted up prior to tip, & he dressed but didn’t play. In his place, Kleiza started & was 5/6 from distance, on his way to 17 points. It will take him the next 4 games to achieve that total, if his record is any guide. Andrea Bargnani had 12 points, but at least was full value for his defense on Blake Griffin, who can’t be stopped but merely slowed down. He contributed 19 to a balanced Clippers attack. Raptor killer Jamal Crawford didn’t have a great shooting night, but made enough to reach 16. Terrence Ross & Jose Calderon each had one basket on 12 shots between them. Lowry struggled as well, with a mere 4 points, though he did dish out 9 dimes. DeRozan was dandy, pouring in 24.
John Lucas III & Matt Barnes got tangled up under the basket, started to wrestle, & were both tossed. You’re a real tough guy, Barnes – you’re 7 inches taller than our guy, & outweigh him by 30 pounds or more. Credit to Lucas for not backing down.
The Raptors fly to Portland for a game tomorrow night against the Trail Blazers.
Brian Boake is a staff writer for Raptors Rapture. “Like” Raptors Rapture on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @RaptorsRapture for all the latest news and updates about the best damn NBA team from Canada.