L.A. Clippers 111, Toronto 110
LOS ANGELES, March 16 (Ticker) -- Lamar Odom
finally gave Dennis Johnson something to smile about.
Odom's 18-footer with 2.3 seconds remaining gave Johnson and the Los Angeles Clippers a 111-110 victory over the reeling Toronto Raptors, who have lost five straight games.
Johnson had been 1-6 since replacing the fired Alvin Gentry as coach of the Clippers. In his first game, against New Orleans, and on Wednesday at Houston, he watched his team fail to execute on its final possession, squandering a chance to win.
"A game like this can help our team a lot," Johnson said. "The last five minutes is always a lot of pulling and tugging. As
long as we had the crowd up, yelling and hollering and our guys coming off the bench doing the same, that's what this game is
really all about."
The Clippers trailed for most of the fourth quarter and were in a 109-104 hole after a dunk by Toronto's Antonio Davis with 1:52 remaining. But Sean Rooks hit a jumper, and after Alvin Williams made 1-of-2 free throws, Eric Piatkowski drilled a three-pointer to make it 110-109 with 1:14 left.
Odom had a chance to give Los Angeles the lead but dribbled out of bounds trying to go past Vince Carter with 34 seconds to go. But Williams missed a quick shot at the other end, giving the Clippers another opportunity.
Odom shot an airball on a runner in the lane, but the rebound went out of bounds off the Raptors. The inbounds pass came to
the left side to Odom, whose jumper gave the Clippers the lead.
"My team has stuck with me with through all I've been through," Odom said. "No sense to give up on me now because I step out of bounds and then don't make a play at the end of the game. It shows confidence in my team for me."
"Anytime you make a turnover, then miss a short shot and come back and hit the game-winner, you forget about everything else
in life," Clippers rookie Melvin Ely said.
Carter, who made a game-winning shot here in the 1999-2000 season, missed a 20-footer as time expired. He finished with 28
points, leading Toronto in scoring for the ninth straight game.
"I just went to the ball, took the shot," Carter said. "It's cut and dried. It felt real good. I actually thought it was
going in, to tell you the truth."
Odom scored 25 points for the Clippers, who snapped a three-game losing streak.
"I don't know what feels better -- to hit the game-winning shot or just to win a close game at home," Odom said.
"It's a huge step for this team," Johnson said. "I don't know if we could have asked for anything more tonight."
It has been a rough season for Odom, who sat out nearly a year with a pair of injuries. The Clippers began the season with
promise but are headed to the lottery for the sixth straight year.
"You can't hit shots from the sidelines," Odom said. "Tonight it helped my confidence to know that when I'm out there, I can
still make things happen."
Odom scored 14 points in the first quarter, but the Clippers trailed, 35-30, as Carter and Antonio Davis scored 10 points
each. They rallied for a 62-62 halftime tie behind rookie Marko Jaric, who scored 11 of his 13 points in the second quarter.
Los Angeles lost forward Corey Maggette to a sprained ankle in the third quarter, but a three-pointer by Piatkowski provided an 88-86 edge entering the final period.
Piatkowski scored 15 points and Maggette added 11 for the Clippers, who shot 51 percent (41-of-81) from the field and held
a 40-33 rebounding advantage.
Davis scored 22 points and Morris Peterson added 20 for the Raptors, who shot 55 percent (41-of-75).