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Clippers’ Defense Propels Them Past Raptors 98-88

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Defensive hustle helps the Clippers weather an otherwise ugly, difficult game.

Toronto Raptors v Los Angeles Clippers Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images

The Los Angeles Clippers ended a five game homestand with 98-88 win over the NBA Champion Toronto Raptors. Both franchises now hold records of 7-3.

Starting Lineups

Clippers: Patrick Beverley, Landry Shamet, Kawhi Leonard, Patrick Patterson, Ivica Zubac

Raptors: Pascal Siakam, OG Anunoby, Marc Gasol, Fred VanVleet, Norman Powell

First Half

The already short-handed Raptors lost AG Anunoby just minutes into the game after being unintentionally poked in the right eye by Kawhi Leonard. He would not return.

After taking an initial lead of 9-2, the Raptors went on a 21-6 run and entered the second frame with a 23-15 lead. Lou Williams and Patrick Patterson supplied almost all the offense for Los Angeles in the first quarter, contributing six each.

In the first frame the Clippers shot just 28.6 percent from the field and 18.2 percent from three. The Raptors shot significantly better: 47.4 percent from the field and 57.1 from long. The Raptors also outscored the Clippers in the paint over the first 12 minutes, 10 to 4.

The Clippers came out with better energy in the second quarter, quickly tying the game behind buckets by Williams, Montrezl Harrell and JaMychal Green.

Toronto’s defense was strong throughout the first half, containing Leonard through double teams and frustrating Harrell with aggressive and physical play in the paint. Kawhi was swarmed every time he touched the ball, which proved to be an effective strategy. The Finals MVP went 0 for 8 in the half, and committed four turnovers.

There were points in the second frame where the Clippers were able to make the Raptors pay for the double team with crisp passing and cutting. They were few and far between, however.

The team as a whole continued to struggle to shoot the ball.

The Clippers defense was significantly better than their offense; a trend in the recent stretch of games. The Raptors struggled to get second chance shots and were held to just eight fast break points in the half. The Clippers also forced five turnovers and snatched 5 steals. After 24 minutes of play, the Clippers had the slight advantage leading 51-46.

STATS AT THE HALF

Lou Williams was the only Clipper in double figures, pouring in 14 points, along with 2 rebounds, 2 assists and 1 steal. Montrezl Harrell had 8 points, 5 rebounds and 1 assist. Patrick Patterson had 6 points and 1 assist, and Kawhi Leonard had 4 points, 2 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 steals.

Patrick Beverley led both teams in rebounding with 8 boards, matching his career high for rebounds in the 1st half. In case you are not keeping track he’s done it twice this year (11/3/19 vs Utah). Mr. 94 Feet also had 6 points, 1 assist and 1 steal.

Norman Powell and Chris Boucher were best for the Raptors with 8 points each. Fred VanVleet and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson added 7 a piece and Pascal Siakam chipped in 6.

Second Half

Within minutes into the second half, Toronto had regained the lead behind a 10 point-turnaround. There would be a total of 11 lead changes in the quarter.

On a positive note, Kawhi’s finally got his first bucket of the night on a coast to coast layup.

That was virtually the only bright spot over a very ugly 12 minutes, however, as the Clippers’ offense took another nose-dive. The team shot a frustrating 8-29 and committed 7 turnovers in the quarter, resulting in 11 Raptor points.

Of serious concern to Clipper Nation, Landry Shamet went down with a left ankle sprain with 1:45 left on the clock. He was immediately taken back to the Clippers’ locker room, and did not return.

Toronto ended the quarter on top 78-73.

The fourth quarter can be summed up in one word. DEFEENSE. The Clippers cranked up the intensity from the opening whistle, blocking three Raptor shots in just as many minutes. Doc Rivers went large for most of the fourth, with Moe Harkless, Green, Harrell and Leonard on the floor together. The pairing really paid off. The Clippers held the Raptors to 10 points over 12 minutes, while plugging away on offense to take back (and hold on to) the lead, winning the contest 98-88.

FINAL STATS

Clippers:

  • Lou Williams: 21 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal
  • Montrezl Harrell: 14 points, 11 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals ,3 blocks
  • Kawhi Leonard: 10 points, 11 rebounds, 9 assists, 3 steals. (9 turnovers)
  • Patrick Patterson: 12 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist
  • Patrick Beverely: 6 points, 12 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal

Pascal Siakam was tops for the Raptors with 16 points, 10 rebounds, 6 assists

TAKEAWAYS

  1. Kawhi has scored 15+ points in the fourth quarter in last 3 games. Not tonight. Kawhi had a quiet outing in terms of scoring (10 points) but found other ways to contribute, nearly ending up with a triple double. (On a bad night, he was one assist away from a triple double - holy hell he is good.)
  2. The Raptors entered the game leading the league in fast break points with 22.7 per game. Against the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday they logged 32. Tonight Toronto had 19 (as did the Clippers). This was one of the “keys” to the game, and the Clippers executed pretty well overall.
  3. The Clippers did an excellent job rebounding and were very effective in preventing the Raptors from getting second chance points. This was a big factor in tonight’s win. Offensive rebounding is becoming a hallmark of the Clippers’ identity as a squad. They had 20 tonight (as compared to the Raptor’s five).
  4. Turnovers continue to plague the franchise. They ended tonight’s contest with 22 turnovers, resulting in 26 points for the Raptors. Kawhi had nine turnovers himself; largely a reflection of Toronto’s smothering double (and sometimes triple) teams on defense.
  5. Montrezl did not have a typically high scoring game, but his defense, particularly in the final quarter, was nothing short of spectacular. It was fun to see him banging around with the big boys in the paint. His contributions to this win were many.
  6. The Clipper defense and hustle is what helped them weather an otherwise ugly, difficult game. Among the memorable team stats: season low 88 points allowed, 9 steals and 7 blocked shots. Once this squad’s offense kicks into high gear, watch out!

NEXT UP

Clippers play the next two games on the road, visiting the Houston Rockets on Wednesday for a 4:30 p.m. match-up, and the New Orleans Pelicans on Thursday for a 5 p.m. contest.