LOS ANGELES-So far, the month of December has not been too kind to the Los Angeles Clippers. After looking incredibly impressive out of the game and into first place of the Western Conference, the Clippers have run into a rough patch where scoring points and playing playoff-type defense have somewhat evaporated. The schedule that the Clippers have coming up for the rest of the month does not get any easier for Doc Rivers’ team.
The Toronto Raptors, those Eastern Conference first-place Toronto Raptors, came into Staples Center without Kahwi Leonard and pretty much did what they wanted to offensively in recording a 123-99 win against the Clippers on Tuesday, Dec. 11. It was the fourth defeat in the last six games for the Clippers, all in the month of December.
And with games against San Antonio, Portland, Oklahoma City, Dallas, Golden State, and the Lakers, among others, this could be a true gauge of what to really expect from this Clippers this season. This roadmap won’t be for the faint of heart. One of the things that will be if the Clippers can find a way to connect on more of their field goal attempts. Against Toronto, the Clippers shot just 44 percent from the field (38 of 85).
On the flip side, Toronto made 52 percent of their attempts from the field. The biggest differential in the game, besides the Raptors going on a scoring blitz in the third quarter, was the team’s 3-point shooting ability. Toronto made nearly half of their treys (14 of 29 shots taken), while the Clippers struggled in this area (7 of 25 for 28 percent). The Raptors put this game away in the third quarter, outscoring the Clippers 33-17 in the period and ballooning their already double-digit lead.
As in their last home game defeat to the Miami Heat, the Clippers offense became stagnated. Tobias Harris, the NBA’s Player of the Month for November, had a rough go at it against Toronto, putting up only 10 points against the Raptors. With Lou Williams not playing, missed an offensive sparkplug. Danilo Gallinari could muster just 11 points.
If there was anything sustainable for the Clippers to come out of their latest defeat is how center Boban Marjanovic, who had a team-high 18 points and seven rebounds.
The Clippers’ shooting woes started way before the third quarter arrived. It began with a 23-point first quarter. Toronto put up 36 points in the period. And even if the two teams played even in the second quarter (34-34), Toronto looked a step faster and quicker, while the Clippers seem to play uninspired for much of the ballgame. But with Serge Ibaka (25 points, 9 rebound, 3 blocked shots) roaming the paint to swat anything that came into the low post, the Clippers played tentatively under the basket.