The Los Angeles Clippers rebounded from a rare defeat in resounding fashion this week and will take aim at another winning streak when they host the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday night.
The Clippers stormed their way to a 138-111 victory at home over the Phoenix Suns on Monday, one day after they lost 106-103 to the Los Angeles Lakers for just their third defeat since the start of December.
“This team is full of vets, we know that, so you gotta just throw that (Lakers’) game away, come out the next game with a better mindset, and try to win,” Clippers star Kawhi Leonard said.
The Raptors are expected to be motivated after a tough 132-131 defeat to the Lakers on Tuesday. Toronto led by a point with 1:08 remaining, but the Lakers finished the victory by going 10 of 10 from the free-throw line in the final 34 seconds.
Raptors coach Darko Rajakovic was particularly incensed that Scottie Barnes had just two free-throw attempts in the fourth quarter, which also were Toronto’s only two tries in the period. The Lakers had 23 free-throw attempts in the fourth quarter, making 19.
“How are you going to explain that to me?” Rajakovic said. “They had to win tonight? If that’s the case, just let us know so we don’t show up for the game. Just give them a win. That was not fair tonight. And this is not happening for the first time for us.”
Rajakovic was far from finished.
“There is no explanation; they just see what they want to see,” Rajakovic said of the officials. “They don’t want to hear us, what we have to say. They don’t want to hear the players.”
Barnes scored 26 points for the Raptors and Pascal Siakam added 25. RJ Barrett and Immanuel Quickley, each in their fifth game with the team after a trade from the New York Knicks, added 23 and 21 points, respectively.
Jakob Poeltl (ankle) did not play and will be out for at least two weeks. Thaddeus Young made his first start of the season and had 10 points in 29 minutes, both season highs.
The Raptors shot 56.4 percent from the floor, their highest mark in a loss this season.
While the Raptors are 3-2 since Barrett and Quickley arrived, they appear to be more competitive than they were when holding a 12-20 record on Dec. 30, the day the trade was announced.
Paul George scored 25 points in the Clippers’ victory Sunday as they shot a season-best 62.4 percent from the floor. They also went 15 of 29 from 3-point range (51.7 percent).
Ivica Zubac and James Harden each scored 19 points, while Leonard scored 17. Harden had 10 assists.
“I think losing that game woke us up,” Clippers coach Tyronn Lue said. “The way we played defensively was really good I thought, in that second half, especially. … (We) created easy shots for one another. That’s the way we have to play.”
While home Wednesday, the Clippers are in a stretch in which they play five of seven games on the road. That run will end Sunday with a road showdown against the Western Conference-leading Minnesota Timberwolves.
–Field Level Media
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