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How The Raptors Can Beat The Clippers

Two weeks ago the Los Angeles Clippers came to Toronto in the midst of a highly successful 7 game Eastern Conference road trip and pulled the Raptors into a defense avoiding shootout that ended in a 126-118 victory for the visitors.  Toronto scored 37 points in the first quarter and could never get back to their defensive principles as almost everyone was just having too much fun.

Hot shooting was the order of the evening as the Raptors Terrence Ross tied Vince Carter’s franchise single game scoring mark of 51 points on 16-29 from the field.  Blake Griffin poured in 30 points for the visitors and Jamaal Crawford scored 37 points and dished 11 dimes in an impressive offensive display.  However, the Raptors lost more than just the game as both DeMar DeRozan and Patrick Patterson were injured.

“For the fans it was a great exhibition of basketball,” Casey said afterwards. “The young man Terrence (Ross) picked it up – we lose DeMar when he hurts his ankle – (Ross) put on a heck of a display. He not only had 51 points. He had 9 rebounds which was huge too.”

“Patrick, his nose is broken.  Griffin came through with a forearm and got him – and (Patterson) got the foul – probably will have to wear a mask to play.”

DeRozan was injured when former Raptor Hedo Turkoglu stuck his foot under him on a jump shot.  Griffin aggressively ducked and then lifted his head and forearm into Patterson’s face on a drive to the basket.  Both DeRozan and Patterson have since returned from their injuries.

The game was close and Toronto had a 1 point lead midway through the fourth quarter, but in a game dependent upon firepower for success they missed DeRozan and Patterson down the stretch.  For all of his scoring, Ross didn’t make another field goal over the final 8 minutes.

With DeRozan healthy, the Raptors might have a shot at winning a shootout with the Clippers, but that hasn’t been the formula for success in Toronto this season.  When the Raptors win, it is most often the result of shutting down the other team’s offense and in Los Angeles that can be a tall order.  The Clippers are the second highest scoring team in the NBA at 106.2 points per game.  They like to run, lob, and play a fun brand of basketball.  In the process the Clippers give up over 100 points per game and it will be up to Toronto to avoid getting sucked into the Clippers style of play.  A quick look at the Clippers record shows they have just 4 wins and 11 losses when the fail to score 100 or more points.

The Raptors are catching the Clippers in a bit of a funk.  After going 5-2 on their long road trip, they have won just once in their past 4 games, losing to the Warriors, Nuggets and HEAT.  All-Star point guard Chris Paul has been out with a separated shoulder since January 4th.  This is the last game in Toronto’s Western Conference road trip and they have split the games 2-2, winning when they have held their opponents under 100 points and losing otherwise.  How the Raptors can win in Los Angeles shouldn’t be that much of a mystery to anyone.


Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.


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