Following a blowout at the hands of the new-look Golden State Warriors, the Los Angeles Clippers aimed to redeem themselves Wednesday night at Staples Center against the Toronto Raptors.
Clippers coach Doc Rivers surprised many with an awkward starting lineup that consisted of guards Chris Paul, Austin Rivers, and Raymond Felton, alongside the frontcourt duo of Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan.
The Clippers wasted no time flexing their dominance, starting the game off with Paul and Jordan connecting for a thunderous alley-oop. Fans were treated to this show early on, as Jordan threw down several monstrous slams throughout the first quarter.
Following an injury plagued season that was marred with controversy last season, Griffin looked like his old self as he ended the night with 24 points, 8 rebounds and 5 assists. The former Oklahoma standout nearly racked up a double-double in the first quarter, with 8 points and 7 rebounds in his first 10 minutes of play.
The Clippers frontcourt of Jordan and Griffin heavily outmatched Raptors big men Patrick Patterson and Jonas Valanciunas. The hulking duo easily outscoring the opposing bigs by 22 points and lead their team to 14 more total rebounds.
By the end of the first quarter the Clippers lead was 33-21 behind Paul’s seven first quarter assists.
Rivers started the second period with Griffin and Jordan on the bench, as summer acquisitions Brandon Bass and Marreese Speights (AKA MO’ Buckets) held down the front court position.
All Star Kyle Lowry dressed but sat out during the game, earning a DNP- Coach’s Decision.
Without his Olympic gold medalist running-mate, former USC standout DeMar DeRozan lit the Clippers up in a hurry during the second period, going 6-6 and scoring 15 points in under 9 minutes of play.
Despite DeRozan’s presence, the Clippers held onto an 11- point lead, heading into the half with a score of 51-62. Blake Griffin continued his dominance in the third quarter, racking up 10 of his 24 points and even going 2-3 from beyond the arc.
Raptors head coach Dwane Casey kept DeRozen on the bench following halftime, spurning his team’s offence in the process, as no one else on the roster could muster up many baskets.
Austin Rivers chipped in 5 of his 10 points in the third period, leading the Clippers to a huge double-digit lead to start the fourth.
With a 17-point lead coach Rivers pulled his starters, giving the remainder of the pre-season game’s minutes to his team’s bench.
Despite an 18-point lead, the Clipper bench failed to keep the Raptors at bay. Rivers would say after the game that all he was thinking about during the fourth quarter was, “getting a bucket” as the Raptors came storming back.
Undrafted Canadian, Brady Helip led the Raptors back into the game behind his 13 fourth quarter points, thanks to a hot shooting stretch in which he went 5-6 in under 9 minutes.
With a minute and a half remaining in the game, undrafted guard Drew Crawford hit a three-pointer, bringing the Raptors within one basket, 94-96.
Brazilian forward Bruno Caboclo attempted to tie the game with a tip-in, but was called for offensive goaltending. Raymond Felton finished up the game with a turnaround jump shot, putting the game out of reach as the Clippers won 104-98.
Paul ended with 7 points, 15 assists, and 6 rebounds. DeAndre Jordan finished with 14 points, 10 rebounds and 1 blocked shot. Cory Joseph chipped in 13 points for the Raptors.
The Clippers continue their preseason with a game against the Utah Jazz on October 10.