Shorthanded on the second night of a back-to-back, the Toronto Raptors played the Los Angeles Clippers tough, but ultimately fell short in a hard-fought loss.
The Toronto Raptors were up against it on Monday night. They were on the road, without three members of their rotation (losing a fourth just minutes into the contest), and on the second night of a back-to-back. Not to mention, they were facing off against one of the NBA’s premier teams, the Los Angeles Clippers. If there was ever was an example of a “schedule loss,” it was the Raptors game on Monday night.
But someone forgot to tell Toronto. Rather than coming out with a defeatist mentality, the Raptors jumped off to an incredible start. They looked particularly locked in defensively, holding Los Angeles to just 15 first-quarter points, en route to an early eight-point lead. Part of that had to do with some unsustainably cold Clipper shooting, but you could also see the Raptors simply playing harder than L.A.
The Clippers won the second quarter, and Toronto fought back to win the third. Perhaps the Raptors wanted to prove something to their old teammate Kawhi Leonard. Perhaps the bench pieces were energized by receiving more time. Either way, the Raptors were the better team through three-quarters and looked like they were going to pull out a win, despite the schedule.
Then, in the fourth, the Raptors seemed to run out of gas. The ball wasn’t moving like it was in the first three-quarters, players weren’t pushing the break with the same intensity, and Pascal Siakam — who was asked to play all 24 minutes in the second half — started to go cold.
Toronto scored just 10 total points in the fourth quarter, and the Clippers came back to win the game. It’s tough to blow any lead; however, it’s hard to complain about the way the Raptors played in this game. So who played well individually?