Game Rap: Raptors 118, Clippers 109
Holly MacKenzie - Raptors.com
IT WAS OVER WHEN
A DeMar DeRozan jumper put Toronto ahead by 18 with 4:34 remaining. Although Toronto would not score again, they rolled to a 118-109 victory against the Los Angeles Clippers to move to 32-21 on the season.
DEROZAN BACK, PATTERSON OUT
DeMar DeRozan returned to the lineup after missing seven of the previous eight games with an ankle sprain. Dwane Casey said DeRozan went through practice on Saturday before sitting Sunday’s game against the Brooklyn Nets. While DeRozan was ready to return, Patrick Patterson missed his second consecutive game with a sore left knee. Casey said Patterson banged knees in Wednesday’s loss to Boston on Wednesday in addition to dealing with the sore knee that sidelined him for 11 games in January.
The Clippers came out firing on Monday, quickly jumping ahead to an 11 point lead before Toronto closed the quarter on a 29-14 run. Toronto led 35-51 after the opening 12 minutes behind a 13-point quarter from DeMar DeRozan and 10 points from Kyle Lowry. Blake Griffin led the Clippers with 11 points. Toronto shot 58 percent in the first quarter. Things continued to roll for the Raptors in the second as the team had another 35-point quarter en route to building a 70-60 halftime lead. DeRozan led all scorers with 20 points in the half, while Lowry had 18 points on six field goals. Griffin did a bit of everything for the Clippers with 18 points, seven rebounds and six assists.
Both teams cooled down slightly in the third, with Toronto dropping to 46 percent shooting and Los Angeles dipping to just 39 percent. The Raptors outscored the Clippers 27-22 in the quarter behind a balanced scoring effort led by six points apiece from Jonas Valanciunas and DeMar DeRozan. With Kyle Lowry on the bench resting to close the quarter, Toronto stretched their lead to 15 points.
Prior to the game, Dwane Casey talked about his team’s effort levels as they recently lost eight of 10 games saying that the effort was there, but the team needed to find a way to extend their stretches of defensive intensity. By the mid-way point of the quarter, free throws from Jonas Valanciunas stretched the lead to 20 points. Although Toronto would be outscored 16-5 in the final 6:30 of the game, the defensive effort throughout the game in building the 20-point lead allowed them to pick up their second consecutive victory after dropping eight of 10 games.
RAPTORS PLAYER(S) OF THE GAME
DeMar DeRozan was fantastic in his return after missing the previous three games with a sprained ankle. DeRozan scored a game-high 31 points on 11-for-22 field goals, including 2-for-3 three-point field goals and 7-for-7 free throws, to go with five rebounds, two assists and a steal in 39 minutes. Kyle Lowry contributed 24 points on 6-for-14 shooting, including 5-for-8 from beyond the arc and 7-for-7 from the free throw line. Lowry added four rebounds and eight assists in 39 minutes.
UNDERRATED RAPTORS PLAYER(S) OF THE GAME
Jonas Valanciunas had as strong game against a tough Clippers front line of Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. Valanciunas recorded a 21-point, 12-rebound double-double, while adding two assists, a steal and a blocked shot in 32 minutes. Cory Joseph came off the bench to lead reserves in scoring with 12 pints on 4-for-9 field goals to go with four rebounds and three assists in 21 minutes of action.
THAT'S A RAP…
“It felt great to be back out there just competing with my guys, putting up victory, especially at home. It felt good. I didn’t have any problems, no pain [in the ankle], nothing. Just a little winded the last minute or two, but it felt good.”
- DeMar DeRozan on his return from a four-game absence with a sprained ankle
BY THE #’S
49…Percent shooting for Toronto compared to 47 percent shooting for Los Angeles.
44…Points in the paint for Toronto, 40 for L.A.
24…Assists for the Raptors, 19 for the Clippers.
26…Points, 11 rebounds, 11 assists and a steal for Blake Griffin in 37 minutes.
804…Three-pointers for Kyle Lowry in a Raptors uniform as he became the all-time franchise leader for three-pointers made. Lowry passed Morris Peterson (801) to become the franchise leader.
THEY SAID IT…
“It kind of puts things back in the pecking order. It’s funny how things go, you have so many talented young men, but it’s still a pecking order. Guys know the rhythm with DeMar back in, how we play offensively, how we play defensively. I thought we did a good job in the first half, but kind of let it get away in the second half with our transition defence. Overall, I thought our attention to detail and what we are trying to do was pretty decent.”
- Dwane Casey on getting DeMar DeRozan back onto the court
“It’s pretty easy to shut it out for me. It’s the game of basketball, it’s the game I love. Like I said, I’m gonna come to the gym every day, be professional, play hard, and whether I make shots or miss shots, as long as they’re good shots, I’m happy.”
- Cory Joseph on blocking out criticism and outside noise
“Extra motivation for me, honestly. Sitting out, you kind of regain a certain hunger that you could lose track of when you’re out there playing. It gives you that hunger all over again to get back out there, to do what you were doing, but even at a higher level.”
- DeMar DeRozan on what he picked up during his time on the sideline
The Raptors head to Minnesota to take on the Timberwolves on Wednesday at 8 P.M. ET.