Game Preview: Raptors vs. Clippers
The Los Angeles Clippers are in Toronto to take on the Raptors on Monday evening. It'll be a back-to-back for both teams, with Toronto winning against the Nets in Brooklyn on Sunday and the Clippers losing to the Clippers in Boston.
Tip-off: 7:30 P.M. ET
Broadcast Info: TSN / SN590
The Raptors were without DeMar DeRozan and Patrick Patterson on Sunday. DeRozan missed his seventh game with a sprained ankle and Patterson was out with a sore knee. Point guard Kyle Lowry bounced back from a weekend where he felt under the weather to record a triple-double against the Nets. Reserve point guard Cory Joseph did not play on Sunday as rookie Fred VanVleet getting the call from Raptors head coach Dwane Casey. With the team losing seven of the previous 11 games as it deals with injuries and slumps, lineups have been shifted and rotations changed.
Through frustration, Casey has reminded his team of the ups and downs in every 82-game season.
"It's a long season," Casey said. "We have 30 more games [in the regular season]. That's what told the team today, we've still got a lot of basketball to be played. Frustration is always part of the NBA. Every since I've been in the league I've been part of it. Good team, bad team, whatever it is, frustration is a part you've got to fight through as a team and everybody has got to play hard. Not just one or two guys. Everybody has got to compete for their position, guard their position and play their role offensively."
The status of DeRozan and Patterson for Sunday's game are unknown. Los Angeles is also dealing with injury concerns. The Clippers have been without star point guard Chris Paul since Jan. 16 when he tore a ligament in his wrist. Without their floor general, the Clippers have dropped six of their previous eight games.
Working on the defensive end
Toronto needed a win on Sunday. The way the Raptors defeated the Nets, holding the team to under 100 points, was the kind of victory that Dwane Casey wanted to see after his team had struggled to contain opponents in recent weeks. DeMarre Carroll said after the game that the goal is to hold opponents under 100 points while Norman Powell said defensive focus was the topic of conversation during Saturday's practice. Still, Kyle Lowry isn't letting anyone get ahead of themselves.
"We gotta find a way to put win, win, win, win [together], we've got to put a string together and we've got to just continue to figure it out," Lowry said. "It's been a rough patch for us. It's been a rough stretch for us, but we all have the confidence in each other just to keep working."
Casey agrees with his point guard, but was pleased to see the defence working for the majority of the game against the Nets.
"I thought the difference was it lasted longer," Casey said. "That's been our bugaboo, we play good defence in stretches. We extended it tonight. We had some droughts, but for the most part we extended our defensive performance for more minutes. That's been our biggest issue reaching back to the Boston game; I thought we played good defence and then had letups. Tonight I thought we sustained it for awhile."
Lowry excels, stitches and all
Kyle Lowry was fantastic on Sunday, recording his ninth career triple-double against the Nets as he scored 15 points to go with 11 rebounds and 11 assists. Lowry continued to excel even after needing to get four stitches after cutting his arm on a camera on the basket stanchion. He joked after the game that the cut was the reason he missed shots, but jokes aside, Lowry did everything the Raptors could have asked for against the Nets.
Lowry was also asked about finding the energy to come up with a triple-double performance after a weekend of feeling under the weather and then getting the stitches in his arm.
"I play basketball for a living," he said. "I'm blessed, man. I'm fortunate to be able to come out here and play basketball for a living. I get to play basketball. I get to hang out with great people. I get to meet great people. I get to put smiles on kid's faces. It's just a fun thing to do. It's a part of this game. You're going to get injured, you're going to get hurt. It's about how you find ways to get through it and I'm always going to find a way to get through it."
With DeMar DeRozan missing seven of the previous eight games, Lowry's workload has increased. Although it would be more fun to spend fourth quarters hanging out on the bench in blowouts, the All-Star isn't complaining about the load he's had to carry.
"When I'm needed I'm going to be there," Lowry said. "And if I'm not needed, I'm still going to be there."