LOS ANGELES (News4usonline) – There are 10 games remaining regular season. That means desperation play will be at the center of the drive going into the playoffs. Both the Los Angeles Clippers and the Toronto Raptors are fighting for postseason berths.
After 72 games, the Clippers are a .500 ballclub right now as the season comes to a close in the next several weeks. At the moment, the Clippers are locked solidly in the No. 8 spot in the Western Conference. Unless something drastic happens between now and the end of the regular season, the Clippers should still be the eighth seed.
But that doesn’t mean the Clippers are going to sit back and chill. There’s still work to do. And after dropping a 103-100 game at Crypto.com Arena to the visiting Toronto Raptors, it’s clear that the fight for the postseason will prove tough. The Raptors are a prime example of this.
“We’re just resilient,” Toronto forward Pascal Siakam said. “We just want to fight every single night no matter what’s happening, the odds against us or whatever the case might be. We got one man down or two men, just continuing to play, fight through, play together as a team and try to get a win. I think we did a great job on this road trip just staying together, following the game plan and no matter what, runs, whatever the case might be just staying together.”
Sitting at the No. 7 spot in the Eastern Conference, Toronto had Los Angeles playing on their heels for most of the night, at one point building a 17-point lead. The Raptors played like a team that had little room for error.
And they don’t. Only a couple of games separate the No. 8 seed from the No. 4 seed where the Boston Celtics sit. So against the scrappy Clippers, Toronto got up big before having to hold off a furious rally by the Los Angeles at the end of the game where the lead shrunk all the way down to 101-100 with 35 seconds left in the game.
“A lot of those guys were on a championship team, well at least their leaders were so they got that chip on their shoulder because people still overlook them at times too even though they do have a ring,” said Clippers forward Terance Mann. “But they are well-coached, Nick Nurse it a great coach, they do a lot of great things offensively and defensively. Just playing against them you have to be on your Ps and Qs at all times and it’s always fun.”
Thanks to Nicolas Batun’s 3-pointer, the Clippers just needed a stop at the other end of the floor, grab the rebound and hope to make a full comeback with a game-winning shot. Unfortunately, that did not happen for the Clippers. Twenty seconds after Batum’s clutch jump shot, Mann was tagged with a questionable foul on Toronto guard Fred VanVleet.
VanVleet made his first free throw before bouncing the second one off the rim. The Clippers couldn’t secure the missed shot and VanVleet wound up getting the rebound off his own missed shot. Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue is kicking himself for not having center Ivica Zubac in the game at that time.
“I should have done it the first time [bringing Zubac back into the game to rebound the first time
VanVleet was at the line],” Lue remarked. “I messed up, I should have got him in.”
Again, VanVleet would make one of two of his free throws. This left the Clippers with one last opportunity. That ended up being a no-go with a 3-point heave by Marcus Morris Sr. getting partially blocked. That would be your ballgame.
“That was a good play draw up,” said Clippers guard Reggie Jackson. “That was something we were trying to get. They did a great job of pressing him, we were confident in Marcus being able to get a shot off. They just got a stop. Fortunate for them, unfortunate for us. Very difficult position we felt like we were in, felt like we got a stop. Iffy call on the side especially after the ball was deflected, fifty-fifty ball. It was just frustrating, that was just very frustrating at the end.”
Equally frustrating to Lue was the fact that Toronto got more out of their activities on the board. For the game, Toronto outrebounded the Clippers, 43-41. Where the differential really shows up is in second-chance points. The Raptors got 21 points off of second-chance baskets. The Clippers managed to get just nine of those style points.
“We gave up 10 offensive rebounds I think in that second half that led to 20 points. We just have to be better with the rebounding,” Lue said.
Featured Image Caption: March 16, 2022. Amir Coffey goes up for the flush against the Toronto Raptors during a game played at Crypto.com Arena. Photo by Mark Hammond/News4usonline