The Clippers kicked off a four-game road trip to end the regular season with the win, which admittedly featured a shorthanded Raptors side, but while LA’s performance was a bit shaggy as they failed to really put their opponent away, they got the win and it does not appear anyone got hurt on the night.
Patrick Beverley got the start for the Clippers in this one, although he remained on a minutes restriction, with Ty Lue starting Kawhi Leonard, Marcus Morris Sr., Ivica Zubac and Paul George alongside the veteran point guard on the night.
LA got out to a good start, running out to a 7-2 lead by the first timeout, Morris getting in a rhythm early for the Clippers. They finished the 1st quarter with a 27-19 lead, Leonard leading the way with nine points.
The Raptors made things interesting early in the 2nd quarter, pulling within six points, but the Clippers unleashed a barrage of 3-pointers and built up a commanding lead as the quarter wore on. Still, Toronto came back and the Clippers led 60-52 at halftime. Paul George was in foul trouble and didn’t get going, but Rajon Rondo came off the bench and was 3-for-3 from 3-point range in the 1st half to help lift the Clips.
The 3rd quarter was more of the same, with the Clippers vacillating between being on the verge of blowing the game open once and for all and the Raptors coming close enough to keep the game interesting. In the end, it was a bit of both, as LA led by 14, 85-71, heading into the 4th quarter.
Terance Mann provided a lift in the final frame, with back-to-back highlight plays, including a towering, thunderous dunk off a feed from Nicolas Batum on the fast break.
Mann had a monster 2nd half, with 20 points on 100 percent shooting on the night, leaving him joint-top scorer for the Clippers with Leonard.
Rookie Jay Scrubb made his NBA debut late in the 4th quarter, the guard getting some run after missing almost the entire season with a foot injury. It was nice to see him get some playing time after what had to have been a tough campaign with uncertainty if he could play this season.
I think on paper the Clippers should have beaten this Raptors team by 30 points or more, and they didn’t manage that, although they mostly stayed ahead by more than 10 points. Is that reason to panic? Absolutely not, but there are probably a few things to work on in the final days of the regular season, particularly in terms of taking care of the ball.
The Clippers’ road trip continues on Thursday when they head to North Carolina to take on the Charlotte Hornets. The Hornets are in 8th place in the Eastern Conference so they’ll likely be up for this one, with the end of the regular season right around the corner here.