THE FACTS: For the second consecutive day, the Clippers sent their reserves onto the floor at the start of the fourth quarter, hoping they'd protect a narrow lead long enough for the starters to catch their breath. And for the second consecutive day the reserves made sure the starters were no longer needed. Jamal Crawford and Eric Bledsoe once again teamed with Lamar Odom, Matt Barnes and Ronny Turiaf to slam the door against another struggling opponent, this time resulting in a 102-83 victory Sunday afternoon against the visiting Raptors at Staples Center.
THE STAT: On Saturday afternoon, it was the Suns who trailed by two points to start the fourth quarter, only to watch L.A.'s bench finish the game on a 32-16 run, handing Phoenix its sixth consecutive defeat. This time, it was the Raptors who trailed by four at the start of the fourth, but then seemed helpless to stop the Clippers' reserves as they outscored the visitors, 25-10, over the final 12 minutes. Toronto went 6:44 without a point before scoring with 19 seconds left in the game, solidifying its 11th loss in the last 12 games.
QUOTABLE: "I think the bench performed well and they deserved to be out there, but that is not always going to be the case and everyone's got to be ready to play."
-- Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro.
TURNING POINT: The Raptors were still within two points after DeMar DeRozan scored with 9:06 left in the game, but then the wheels began turning for the Clippers. After making one of two free throws, Bledsoe stole a pass and scored on a breakaway dunk for an 84-79 lead. Crawford then sank two free throws and Bledsoe followed with a pull-up jumper, extending the lead to 88-80. Barnes then sank a 3-pointer to give the Clippers their biggest lead of the game, 91-80, and they were well on their way to their second six-game winning streak of the season.
HOT: Crawford has been the tip of the sword down the stretch for the Clippers this season. He came in averaging a league-leading 8.2 points in the fourth quarter, a number that was further padded by his 13-point effort in the fourth quarter against the Suns. Against the Raptors, however, Crawford took a back seat to Bledsoe, who scored 10 of his 14 points in the final quarter, connecting on all four of his field-goal attempts and contributing three assists and two steals down the stretch.
QUOTABLE II: "[Bledsoe] just makes things happen. He gets his hands on a lot of balls; he gets out on the break. On the pick and roll he's tough because he can just turn the corner on a lot of people."
-- Del Negro.
NOT: Toronto point guard Kyle Lowry came into the game as the second-leading scorer for the Raptors (17.7), tied for the lead in rebounds (5.5) and second in assists (5.9). He never got untracked as a scorer against the Clippers, however, finishing with four points, six rebounds, nine assists and five turnovers in 32 minutes.
GOOD MOVE: During the decisive fourth-quarter run and before his ejection, Barnes made a smooth behind-the-back pass to Turiaf as he cut toward the basket a step ahead of Amir Johnson. Turiaf collected the pass and slammed it through the hoop for a 93-80 lead.
BAD MOVE: The Clippers nearly completed their third consecutive game without playing their starters in the fourth quarter, but Barnes was ejected after getting into a shoving match with John Lucas with 1:36 remaining in the game. Caron Butler was then called upon to finish out the game.
NOTABLE: After making a club record 58 consecutive free throws, Crawford missed two straight late in the second quarter. Interestingly, the streak began after he missed two straight against Golden State earlier this season. Crawford did manage to convert the 35th four-point play of his career with five minutes left in the game, extending his NBA record. ... Toronto small forward Mickael Pietrus did not play because of tendinitis in his left knee. Linas Kleiza started in his place and finished with 17 points, converting 5-of-6 from 3-point range.
UP NEXT: For the Clippers, Tuesday @ Chicago, Wednesday @ Charlotte, Saturday @ Milwaukee. For the Raptors, Monday @ Portland, Wednesday vs. Brooklyn, Friday vs. Dallas.