Well folks, they don't call it the Wild West for nothing. Rarely does a five-game road trip feature as many ups and downs as this one did for the Raptors (in November, no less), but Toronto will head home with a 2-3 record thanks to a 91-80 win over the Los Angeles Clippers.
Of course, all good things come with nasty linings, and this was a game that should never have been as close as the final score suggests.
Today, the Raptors took advantage of an apathetic Clippers team from the tap. With Bismack Biyombo starting for an injured Jonas Valanciunas, most of the offense started up top with DeMar DeRozan. Rather than dribbling ad nauseum though, DeMar spread the floor evenly, providing plenty of hockey assists to players around the floor. One of the recipients was DeMarre Carroll, who shot 8-for-8 for 21 points in the first half.
With Blake Griffin in foul trouble early, and everyone else on the Clippers looking like they had just rolled out of bed, the Raptors jumped to a previously unthinkable 29-point lead at the half.
Of course, that was only the beginning of a bizarre afternoon.
Looking every bit a team that had Starbucks as their halftime snack, the Clippers turned into a ball-hawking defensive team in the third quarter. The Raptors turned inward, as they often have this season, forcing isolation to the tune of eight total points in the frame. When put in a box score, it's something to behold.
The current Raptors/Clippers box score is amazing. pic.twitter.com/nN1k9B1nwa— Danny Leroux (@DannyLeroux) November 22, 2015
Los Angeles continued to chip away at the lead to start the fourth, getting it down to six midway through. With every expectation now aptly turned to a Raptors loss, DeMarre Carroll made the turning point play on defense, stoutly guarding Griffin and taking an elbow to the ribs to force a foul and turnover. Toronto responded with a 6-0 run, getting the lead back up to 12, which was enough to hold on to down the stretch.
The Raptors are now 9-6, and got a savvy game from DeRozan after a stretch of sub-par performances. DeMar stuffed the stat sheet, scoring 21 points (4-of-16 FG offset by an awesome 13-of-14 FT), grabbing six boards, and dealing three assists. Kyle Lowry had a noteworthy double-double with 13 points and ten assists. As a team, the Raptors' defense forced the Clippers into 19 turnovers, with J.J. Redick the unlikely leading scorer with 17.
Toronto now heads home to relax, grab a bite to eat from the locals and... play the East-leading Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday. It just never gets easier, does it.
Thoughts on this one?