Archive for the ‘Los Angeles Clippers’ Category

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There was a great buzz in the building for this game, as Toronto fans packed the Air Canada Centre to watch their Raptors take on the Los Angeles Griffins. What, it’s kind of true.

The Raptors got off to a great start, and Amir Johnson was doing a fabulous job on Blake Griffin, but Amir picked up two quick fouls and struggled to stay on the floor for the rest of the night.

The two teams traded runs throughout the first half in what was clearly shaping up as a tightly contested ball game. After a pretty entertaining first quarter though, the game came to a screeching halt and was played at a snail’s pace for most of the second and third quarters. I don’t know if it was that both teams were playing chippy or that the refs just decided to call every little bit of contact (it looked more like the latter), but it seemed there were free throws on practically every possession.

For the Raptors, DeMar DeRozan continued his trend of starting games with the hot hand and Andrea Bargnani continued to return to his pre-New Year form. For the Clippers, Griffin worked his tail off against some decent Raptors defence and Baron Davis provided some secondary scoring in the first half.

But in the second half, Davis was taken out of the equation and the only Clipper really helping Blake out was Brian Cook. That tells you where this was going for the Clippers.

The Raptors began to pull away towards the end of the third quarter, and though the Clippers kept it close in the fourth, Andrea Bargnani seemed to hit a big shot every time the Clippers made a bit of a run.

In the end, the Raptors managed their 15th victory of the season in a good ball game. I’ll say it again: if the Raptors can continue to entertain their home fans with close games like they did tonight, and still manage a top-five pick, there’s nothing to really complain about. And credit the fans themselves, who made the atmosphere in the building a lot better than it should have been for two teams with combined records of 34-73.

While Bargnani and DeRozan carried the scoring load for the Raptors and Jose Calderon registered a double-double of 10 points and 11 assists, the Raptor that stuck out to me was Ed Davis. The rookie continued to impress with some solid, physical defence on Blake Griffin in relief of Amir Johnson. And to go along with his usual defence and prowess around the glass (14 rebounds), Davis even added some scoring, with 13 points on 6-of-8 shooting.

A couple of other notes before I leave you on this Sunday evening. I mentioned that the second quarter and parts of the third really dragged on. With the low scoring in those quarters, the free throws, and both teams’ dependence on zone defence, it really felt like we were watching a college game.

Lastly, if tonight was any indication, Blake Griffin and DeMar DeRozan should put on a good show next weekend at the dunk competition. Griffin had the road fans out of their seats with this monster jam, and DeRozan threw down a hammer of his own later in the game. Let’s hope these two save some air time for the competition, and give us something to get excited about, unlike last year, DeMar.

Raptors Player of the Game: Andrea Bargnani -41 Min, 27 Pts, 9-21 FG, 1-3 3Pt, 8-9 FT, 6 Reb, 2 Ast

Clippers Player of the Game: Blake Griffin – 36 Min, 21 Pts, 7-13 FG, 7-10 FT, 15 Reb, 2 Ast

Goat of the Game: Randy Foye – 37 Min, 5 Pts, 2-14 FG, 0-3 3Pt, 1-1 FT, 3 Reb, 3 Ast, 2 Stl, 1 Blk, 1 TO

Blake Griffin

If there’s one thing we should all be able to agree on, it’s that we’re lucky the trend of opposing teams’ star players being injured when they face the Raptors isn’t continuing today. Blake Griffin is the most entertaining player in the NBA right now, and if you don’t agree I think you might be watching the wrong sport.

What makes this game even more interesting is that the Clippers just allowed the Cavaliers to end their record-setting 26-game losing streak on Friday so you have to think that they’re going to be pissed off going into this game. Of course, they’re the Clippers and they’re without Eric Gordon so they’re still beatable — if that’s the result you’re going for at this point.

Injury report

Toronto: Leandro Barbosa is doubtful with a strained hamstring, but I’ve just learned from Matt Devlin that Amir Johnson is not only playing tonight, he’s starting.

Los Angeles: Eric Gordon, Chris Kaman and Craig Smith are all out.

Five questions

1. Do you have a problem with Blake Griffin winning Rookie of the Year when this is technically his second season on an NBA team?

2. Will high-end free agents start to consider the Clippers now that they have Griffin and Eric Gordon or will their bad aura and shitty owner continue to make them undesirable?

3. Is there a player on the Raptors you wouldn’t be willing to include in a trade for Blake Griffin? I’m legitimately curious to see responses to this question.

4. Is there a more meaningless winning streak in sports right now than the Raptors’ four-game winning streak against the Clippers?

5. Is longtime Clippers superfan Frankie Muniz (Malcolm in the Middle) shaking his head at all the bandwagon fans the Clippers are attracting because of Blake Griffin?

Start time: 6:00 PM ET
Channel: TSN2
Probable starting lineups
Toronto: Jose Calderon, DeMar DeRozan, Sonny Weems, Amir Johnson, Andrea Bargnani
Los Angeles: Baron Davis, Randy Foye, Ryan Gomes, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan

I found out recently there’s a movie coming out soon that was originally called “Battle: Los Angeles” (the name has since been changed to “World Invasion: Battle LA”) and I was immediately reminded of my favorite album of all-time, “The Battle of Los Angeles” by Rage Against the Machine. Anyone reading this who knows me is rolling their eyes right now, but I think I’ve shown admirable restraint by not using a Rage song until today. Anyway, today’s pregame song is “New Millennium Homes” — I don’t know if it’s my favourite song from the album, but it’s one you won’t know unless you bought the album.