LOS ANGELES — Toronto coach Dwane Casey said before Friday night’s game that to beat the Los Angeles Clippers the Raptors needed to take away the easy baskets and “slow (Blake) Griffin down as much as we can.”
The plan was sound, but the execution was not. Griffin scored his team’s first 5 points, had 19 in the first quarter and finished with 36 as the Clippers snapped a two-game losing streak with a 118-105 win over the Raptors at Staples Center.
It was the third game in a row in which the All-Star forward had scored 36 points or more and this one came despite foul trouble that kept him on the bench for over 25 minutes. Guard Jamal Crawford added 21 points and six assists and center DeAndre Jordan had 18 points and 13 rebounds.
Guard DeMar DeRozan had 36 points and eight assists and guard Kyle Lowry added 19 points for Toronto, which has lost its past four games here.
Jordan got 10 of his points in the third quarter when the Raptors “junked up the game,” according to Crawford, by sending the 6-foot-11 center to the free throw line 16 times. Jordan, a 43 percent foul shooter, made 8 of the 16.
“I knew they were going to do it,” Jordan said. “I didn’t know it was going to last 45 minutes.”
Clippers coach Doc Rivers joked that it was “the longest quarter in NBA history (officially 41 minutes)” and one of the most frustrating.
“I think when they started it they were down 18,” he said, “and when they stopped it they were down 17. It didn’t affect the score, but it did do something. It changed the rhythm of the game. We had a great pace and we could never get back to it.”
“I think it changed the momentum for us,” Lowry said. “It definitely slowed the game down a lot. But it worked for us. We got the momentum back and we cut it to nine to start the fourth.”
Rivers said the Raptors didn’t make their comeback because of Jordan’s foul shooting, though. They came back “because we weren’t getting stops on defense.”
“We put ourselves in position to win, but at the end we missed a lot of chippies, a lot of bunnies,” Casey said. “Physicality in the paint is something we’ve got to get better at. Guys have to get back to the fundamentals of boxing out and putting bodies on people.”
The Clippers used 7-0 and 10-0 scoring runs in the second quarter to take control of the game at halftime, with Griffin playing only a minor part during that stretch.
Field goals by guard Willie Green, Crawford and Jordan, and a Crawford free throw, accounted for the 7-0 surge that made it 45-35 with 5:59 left until intermission. Then, with 2:40 to play and the lead at 58-47, Crawford pulled up for a 28-foot 3-pointer to launch the 10-0 burst and guard Darren Collison ended it with a 3-pointer off a rebound assist by Jordan.
Collison’s basket made it 65-47 Clippers and it was 67-51 at halftime after DeRozan made 1 of 2 free throws with 5 seconds remaining.
The first quarter was the Griffin and DeRozan show, with the Cippers’ forward scoring his team’s first five points and 19 of the 21 he had at the break. DeRozan, meanwhile, gave Toronto its only lead, at 8-7, with a fast break lay-in off a Griffin turnover and had 12 of his first-half total of 19. Crawford had 17 at halftime in support of Griffin.
The Clippers, who made 16 of a season-high 26 free throws in the quarter, led 83-62 after a Jordan free throw with 6:31 left and still were in front by 18, at 91-73, with 3:48 to play in the quarter. But with guard Kyle Lowry getting 6 of his 13 for the quarter the Raptors went on a 10-1 charge to close it to 92-83 heading into the fourth quarter.
They were never able to mount another charge, however.
NOTES: Clippers F Blake Griffin is the only player in the past 11 years to average at least 23 points, nine rebounds and three assists and shoot 50 percent or better from the field. Shaquille O’Neal and Tim Duncan were the last to do it, both in 2002-03. … Raptors G DeMar DeRozan has been selected as a reserve for the Eastern Conference all-star team. DeRozan is averaging 22 points per game and has scored 18 or more in 10 consecutive road games. … Toronto ended a five-game Western Conference road trip. … The Raptors have played 28 road games, the most in the Eastern Conference. … Clippers C DeAndre Jordan is trying to become just the third player in NBA history to lead the league in field goal percentage (65.3) and rebounds per game (14). The others were Dwight Howard in 2009-10 and Wilt Chamberlain, who accomplished it eight times from 1960-61 to 1972-73.
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