That’s how you start a Western road swing, with a come-from-behind win over a team who let up just enough for the us to pull the rug out from under their feet. The Raptors got down 22 points early in the 2nd quarter but spent the rest of the game attacking the Clippers, finally taking the lead with a big 23-2 run to close out the game. This is the second game in a row the Raptors got themselves into a big mess, but unlike the Bulls-game, the Raptors made key defensive stops late in the 4th that broke the Clippers’ back.
This was a game of runs and an entertaining one at that. It started with the both teams matching each other basket for basket. Bargnani was attacking Kaman off the dribble early, blowing by him from the perimeter and finishing at the rim. Kaman returned the favour in kind with some big play in the post, scoring 9pts and grabbing 2rebs (1 offensive), even dropping a ridiculous duck-under move that got me out of my seat (I love watching fancy post-play). A couple fadeaways to boot and Kaman was looking as refined as ever, despite having a “virus”.
That’s when it happened; the Clippers turned it on; with the game 15-13 Clips, Baron Davis stepped up, and started to attack. He hit Rasual Butler, who was curling off a screen, with a pass for an open J. Davis slashed to the rim and Camby hit him with a pass for the layup. He drew the double on a penetration and kicked out to DeAndre Jordan and boom, 8-0 Clippers run pushes their lead to 23-13. Raptor timeout.
The timeout didn’t help as the Clippers went on another run with Davis and Camby playing off of each other, pacing an 11-2 run to end the first quarter leading the Raps 34-17. Hedo was obviously hurting, wincing every time he took a breath, Bosh was attacking, but couldn’t hit any of his shots as the lengthier Camby was obviously bothering him. Calderon was doing okay, but Davis was playing like a Top-5 point guard (7pts 5ast). DeRozan was feeling the pressure to preform in front of his family/friends and it showed with a turnover and a horrible looking airball.
The quarter started like the first one ended, with Antoine Wright taking a stupid shot. For some reason, I still like the dude a lot, just wish he would never shoot another jumper again, ever. Kaman and a guy named Craig Smith and Steve Novak pushed the lead to 22 by attacking the paint and hitting wide open 3s, but things were a bit different this time. Our bench was really giving the Clippers some problems. Amir Johnson was more then a handful for Kaman in the paint; Belinelli was running around like a vulture looking for the right time to strike, and he struck with timely jumpers that kept this game from getting out of hand. All his shots felt like daggers and he’s got the facial expression which lets you know it.
Bosh entered the game 4 minutes in and went to work. With Camby on the bench, he hit a beauty of a half-hook over Smith, grabbed rebounds, and went to the line. He teamed up with Amir Johnson to literally take control of the paint on both ends. The two were boxing out and pulling down rebounds, attacking the offensive glass, drawing doubles that opened up some space for Belinelli who hit his dagger jumpers.
Belinelli and Johnson’s energy off the bench was the game changer. With Hedo hurt and Bargnani absolutely invisible, these too provided the inside/outside punch to disrupt the sweet spot the Clippers got into. Kaman had no answer for Johnson’s tenacity on the boards. He may have blocked him once or twice but Johnson didn’t care. The Raptors were +12 in the paint in the 2nd, and cut the lead to 54-45 at the half. Getting back to Amir for a second; our boy is fierce, and having him line up along side Bosh is a combination I want to see Triano play more often (as opposed to say Calderon and Jack teamed up in the backcourt which gets more burn for some reason).
The 3rd quarter started the like the 2nd ended, with the Raptors attacking. Bosh and Bargnani got the ball rolling, but it was spearheaded by Calderon who had 9pts and 3ast. Baron Davis had no answers as JC drove, dished and dissected the Clippers. The earlier abuse Calderon took was now being reversed towards the Baron. The Raptors started the quarter on a 6-1 run; then a 9-2 run to take their first lead at 65-64. In fact, it was bucket for bucket until the 4:26 mark of the 4th, with the Clippers up 89-88, and the Raptors fielding the lineup of Calderon/Belinelli/Wright/Bosh/Bargnani:
- Bargnani trails the play and hits a DEEP three point; 91-89 Raptors
- Calderon blocks Telfair on the 3pt (greatest defensive play of his career) after a great 24 seconds of team defense
- Wright draws a foul on the drive and hits both from the line, 93-89 Raps
- Bosh/Bargnani force Kaman to take a bad shot
- Calderon hands off the ball to Belinelli for an acrobatic 3, 96-89 Raps
- Bosh/Bargnani collapse on Kaman in the paint, forcing him to airball from 3ft
- Bargnani trails the play, and Calderon finds him for another deep three, 99-89 Raps
- Davis is pressure on the drive by a rotating Bargnani, misses the layup
- Calderon quickly pushes the ball and hits a layup, 101-89 Raps
- Davis misses from 28ft
- Bosh draws the double and kicks out to an open Jose for a trey, 104-89
Unlike the Bulls game, where the Raptors capitalized on poor Bulls shooting from the perimeter to win the game; the Raptors played great team defense, communicating and rotating like they’ve been here before. Then pushing back after the defensive stand to capitalize on a Clippers team that was playing on their heels.
The Four Factors to Winning
Shooting the Ball
The Raptors took and hit good shots. They attacked the paint, found the open shooter when bigs got doubled, but stuck shot after shot.
Raptors – 56.8%
Clippers – 50%
Taking Care of the Ball
86 possessions, 28 assists and only 9 turnovers. ‘Nuf said.
Raptors – 10.4%
The Clippers front court are big boys. Between the Raptors good shooting, and the length and size of Camby/Kaman, there wasn’t much for Bosh/Johnson to grab. Kaman was an animal on the offensive glass, and really had his way with Bargnani.
Raptors – 25%
Clippers – 31.5%
Getting to the Free Throw Line
No surprise that with the attacking nature of the Clippers, and the jump shooting nature of the Raptors, the Clippers had double the FT rate. It should be noted that Bosh went to the line more then the rest of the Raptors combined (8-7).
Raptors – 18.7%
Clippers - 38.5%
Belinelli was driving the bus, but it was the MVP calibre play of Bosh that made the difference. After a slow start, Bosh dropped 21pts 14rebs 6ast, that’s ridiculous. Check the live blog to get the feel for the game.