With the Raptors were coming off of a horrid loss in Denver, they started out strong against the Clippers. Outworking LA early, the Raptors were able to ride a strong first half from Ed Davis to take a 44-43 lead at the break.
It didn’t last.
Despite Toronto going ahead by double figures in the third quarter, the team fell apart in the fourth as the Clippers collected the 94-90 victory and Toronto dropped their fourth straight to go 1-4 on their West Coast swing after picking up that surprising victory in Oklahoma City against the Thunder last week.
The story was a familiar one for Raptors fans: Team tightens up in the fourth, allows the other team to get in a rhythm and can’t close things out in a close finish down the stretch.
This time, despite leading by 10 with less than nine minutes remaining, the team could not stop the Clippers from coming back. Blake Griffin finished with 22 points and 16 rebounds, including a pair of back-to-back dunks that got the crowd into it as the Clippers went on an 11-0 run. With less than two minutes remaining, the Raptors held onto a one-point lead, but then Griffin had another dunk and Eric Gordon hit a three and that was that.
The fourth was brutal. Of course, the Raptors were without Andrea Bargnani (bone spur) and Reggie Evans (sore right foot), but even if they had been in the game, there’s a pretty good chance the team would have ended up giving the game away late.
Without Bargnani, the Raptors needed a strong game from DeMar DeRozan, but they didn’t get it. DeRozan struggled, starting 0-for-9 from the floor and finishing 3-for-15. Unfortunately, DeRozan was called for stepping out of bounds late in the game when replays show he was clearly inbounds, but to quote every NBAer who has ever played in the league, it is what it is.
Another loss in the books. At least the Raptors played a much better game than the embarrassment in Golden State the night before. Now, the team heads home with nine games remaining to close out the season.
Raptors player of the game: Ed Davis – 21 pts, 8-11 fgs, 5-8 fts, 11 rebs, 3 asts, 1 stl
Clippers player of the game: Blake Griffin – 22 pts, 9-23 fgs, 4-9 fts, 16 rebs, 5 asts, 1 stl