There were a lot of familiar faces back at Scotiabank Arena tonight as TWO all-time favourite Raptors made a return to Toronto. Kawhi Leonard and Norman Powell, along with the Los Angeles Clippers made the trip up North to kick off the Toronto Raptors home stand this week.
The Raptors were coming off back to back wins on the road against New York and Cleveland, while the Clippers were on the second night of a back to back after playing in Detroit last night.
The only two players on the Raptors injury list were Precious Achiuwa (who may be returning soon) and Otto Porter Jr.
The Raptors hoped to make it three wins in a row after breaking their six-game losing streak last week. It was not in the cards for them as they fell short against two of their previous teammates.
They got off to a pretty good start, making shots and being active on defence, but it’s hard to stop Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, as well as Zubac, who brings a tall dominant presence in the paint.
Yet, the Raptors prevailed in the first quarter, beating the Clippers 29-27.
Scottie Barnes had an excellent first quarter, grabbing seven rebounds and three assists to go along with six points.
Malachi Flynn also checked in early and made an immediate difference, scoring his own quick seven points. He has been absolutely fantastic off the bench for Toronto in recent games.
The second quarter saw the Raptors lose that small lead, but they kept up well with a sharp shooting Paul George, who led the Clippers with 16 points at the half.
Norm Powell was the only Clippers bench player to be on the score sheet in the first half, scoring 11 points. The Clippers were able to get up ahead due to back to back fouls on Thad Young in the last seconds of the half.
The Clippers led the Raptors 60-56 at halftime.
Clippers lead 60-56 at halftime.— Raptors HQ (@RaptorsHQ) December 28, 2022
Raptors leading scorers:
Gary Trent Jr: 14/1
O.G. Anunoby: 12/3
Pascal Siakam: 9/5/6
Scottie Barnes: 8/3/8
A couple of missed three’s and some turnovers to start the third quarter helped the Clippers get up by seven points quickly. The Raptors habit of letting things slide in the third quarter is close to following them into 2023 at this rate.
Scottie Barnes continued to make a large impact. He booked his double double four minutes into the third quarter and just kept on rolling. His presence in the paint, getting rebounds and touches at the rim has proved successful for him in recent games.
Scottie Barnes really made the difference in that first quarter, especially on the glass. He already has 7 rebounds and 3 assists to go along with 6 points.— Raptors HQ (@RaptorsHQ) December 28, 2022
It seemed like we blinked and the Clippers were up 83-69 with 4:30 left in the quarter. It felt like the Raptors energy disappeared.
Pascal Siakam started off by having an off night all together, shooting 4/13 from the field, 0/4 from three, 5/10 from the free throw line. While is definitely normal for guys to have off-nights, the Raptors just cannot afford for both Siakam and Fred VanVleet — who left the game early with back soreness — to not be contributing heavily.
Yet, Siakam is an All-Star, so the second we declare he is having an off night, he comes back and goes on a personal scoring run. By the end of the third quarter he was leading all scorers with 22 points — tied with Norman Powell. How poetic.
Clippers led the Raptors 97-82 going into the final stretch.
The Raptors didn’t do much to close the gap in the fourth, letting the Clippers’ centre Zubac get anything he wanted in the paint. It showed the true lack of a centre in the Raptors lineup, and the need for a strong defensive presence at that five spot.
The Raptors were able to bring it to 113-100 with 5:23 left in the game. It felt like if there was going to be a push, it would be at this moment.
Yet, they just couldn’t close the gap. Despite Pascal turning his night around and putting up 32 points, nine rebounds and five assists, it wasn’t enough to come back.
The Raptors fall to the Clippers 124-113 and fall to 15-19 on the season
Some highlights of the game:
Scottie Barnes was great tonight, throughout the entire game. He scored 17 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists. He scored 8/15 from the field and was active on the glass. It was a great effort for him.
Unfortunately there was just not enough depth to help him out as Fred VanVleet ended his night early and Hernangomez scored 0.
Pascal Siakam also had a stealthy yet excellent night. By the third quarter, everyone (including me) had discounted him to having an “off night.” Yet he pushed through in the third and fourth to finish with 36 points, nine rebounds and five assists.
Another bright spot on the game was Gary Trent Jr., who continues to lead the bench. Tonight he scored 20 points, and had one rebound and one assist.
The Raptors will have one day off before welcoming the Memphis Grizzlies to Toronto Thursday Night at 7:30 p.m.