The Clippers started off with a jam fest. They had four dunks in their first eight baskets, including a missed attempt by Ivica Zubac. Paul George in particular made concerted efforts to get to the rim, adding two driving layups to his two-dunk tally.
The problem was that the Clippers couldn’t connect from long range. A team that makes more than 14 3-pointers per game managed only two in the first period. Their shot volume was essentially the same as that of the Raptors, but a couple of extra triples put Toronto up four after the first frame.
Patrick Beverley rejoined the team for the first time since April 8, coming off the bench in his return game. Beverley’s wind looked great, and he immediately got into the Raptors guards, pressuring them far from the basket and actively fighting for steals and deflections despite having just returned from hand surgery! He also hit two 3-pointers and delivered a beautiful bounce-pass assist on the break to Kawhi Leonard for a thunderous slam.
The rest of the bench was something of a mixed bag. The Clippers didn’t stagger Leonard and George — perhaps because Beverley was already with the second unit — but the bench group of Beverley, Rajon Rondo, Terance Mann, Nicolas Batum, and DeMarcus Cousins was lacking something. Cousins attacked the glass and was a force in the paint, but there weren’t any other scoring threats in that lineup. That put undue offensive burden on Rondo, who ended up turning the ball over three times and forcing two late-clock threes.
The Clippers also struggled some with ball control, not altogether surprising against a Raptors team that forces turnovers more frequently than any other in the league. L.A.’s 10 turnovers led to 10 points and six-point halftime deficit even as the home team shot 54 percent from the field.
The second half had some similar themes as the starting unit played well, but the bench gave much of it back. As a result, Lue tried to settle the second unit by playing Leonard in Mann’s place. However, there were still miscommunications within a unit that hadn’t played together much. Turnovers almost undid the Clippers in the fourth quarter, as the Raptors reeled off a 10-0 run to go up six with six minutes to play.
But the Clippers had their energy late, and the Raptors didn’t. Triples by Marcus Morris Sr., George, and Reggie Jackson gave L.A. a five-point lead with under two minutes to play, and Toronto had no answers. It was a tough win, and good to see the Clippers respond to a high-pressure situation to end their losing streak.