After suffering two close road losses in the past three games, the matchup against the Raptors may have been viewed as an opportunity to pick themselves up ahead of the playoffs. Unfortunately, the Clippers couldn’t finish the job at home despite mounting an impressive comeback, losing to the Raptors 103-100.
For the Raptors, it was clear that first-time All-Star Fred VanVleet and Pascal Siakam would both play major roles in the outcome of this game. They both started the first quarter strong, with VanVleet doing most of his work from distance while Siakam’s offensive versatility got him looks from the mid range and at the hoop. However, the Clippers did not slack off on either end. They shot 50 percent from distance in the first half, and Marcus Morris in particular helped keep his team engaged. He scored 14 points, and with 10 points from Reggie Jackson and nine from Terance Mann, it was clear the game would be competitive. Despite the good play from the Clippers, the Raptors managed to extend their lead to 10 in the last couple minutes of the half.
For much of the third quarter, the Clippers struggled to get back into the game. Their offense had a marked shift from a focus on ball movement to more isolation play, and with their defense allowing for easy looks near the hoop, the Raptors were able to build on top of their lead. But as we’ve seen the Clippers do time and time again, they cut what was a 17 point deficit to just four by the end of the third quarter.
While there were ample opportunities in the fourth for the Clippers to tie or take the lead, every time they got close it seemed like the Raptors would go on a run. Siakam was a thorn in their side as he continued to exploit mismatches, going on to score 31 points in the game to go along with 12 rebounds.
The lead was within reach for the Clippers after a successful challenge with under three minutes to go, and was even cut to just one with under a minute left, but another controversial whistle and a last-second miss from Marcus Morris sealed the 103-100 Clippers loss. Things won’t be much easier for their next game, where they’ll head to Utah to take on the fourth-place Jazz.