The Los Angeles Clippers disappointed a sellout crowd at the Air Canada Centre last night by defeating the Toronto Raptors. But if there’s ever such a thing as a good loss, it was this game. Terrence Ross, the Raps’ sophomore swingman, played out of his mind. On a night when DeMar DeRozan and Patrick Patterson left early due to injuries (more on those later), TRoss started hot and never cooled down. His astonishing breakout game included 10 of 17 baskets from distance, as he tied Vince Carter’s franchise record for most points in a single game with 51.
Sometimes offense trumps defense, and so it was this night. Try as they might, the Raps couldn’t stop two hugely talented Clippers, Blake Griffin inside, and Jamal Crawford out. Patterson was hurt on one of Griffin’s many back-downs, and was called for the foul to boot by the whistle-happy zebras. Did his face foul Griffin’s elbow? The unfortunate Patrick’s nose won’t stop bleeding, and he shortly left the court, not to return. DeMar had earlier landed on Hedo Turkoglu’s foot while completing a jump shot, and badly twisted his ankle. The boisterous crowd, which had booed lustily when Hedo entered the game, was deathly silent as DD writhed on the floor. He was helped to his feet, and continued for a few minutes, then departed for the night. [20-second timeout: I suffered a worse version of this injury in high school ball, and ended up with a plaster cast on my leg past my knee. I was happier than most when DD was able to stand.]
The Raps started quickly, were up 10 several times in Q1, and had to be disappointed to score 65 first-half points yet trail by six. The Clippers’ comeback was keyed when coach Doc Rivers (no fool he) decided a high-scoring game was in the offing, and called on Crawford. All he could manage was 26 points by intermission, including an impossible 4-point play when he drained a corner three while being fouled by Amir Johnson. The Raps roared back in Q3, and knotted the match when TRoss buried another 3-ball from waaaay deep with a tenth of a second on the clock. Toronto nudged ahead by a point on a Jonas Valanciunas dunk halfway through Q4. However, J.J. Redick and Griffin were too much the rest of the way.
The bitterness of defeat should not be allowed to sully Terrence Ross’ eye-popping scoring deluge, the best game played by a Raptor in many seasons. What impressed me most was not his phenomenal outside shooting stroke; I knew he was capable of that, though not to this degree. Instead, it was seeing Terrence shift gears – when the Clips decided he wasn’t a fluke, and got in his face, he started taking the ball to the hoop. In other words, his 2-pointers were more important for the future than his 3s.
Let’s hope DD’s ankle heals quickly. The Raps travel to Brooklyn for a critical intra-division game against the surging Nets on Monday night. If both our swingmen are healthy, and TRoss’ magical game wasn’t a one-off, we’re in for a treat.
Putbacks: Kyle Lowry and JV both recorded double-doubles, and TRoss was a rebound short -we’ll forgive him…the teams combined to shoot 26 of 51 from beyond the arc