DeRozan, Lowry lead Raptors past Clippers
TORONTO (AP) — For the first time since Doc Rivers took over as coach before last season, the Los Angeles Clippers have lost three straight games.
That didn’t look likely after a powerful first quarter in Toronto on Friday night.
DeMar DeRozan scored 24 points, Kyle Lowry had 21 and the Raptors rallied from an early 20-point deficit to beat the Clippers 123-107, handing slumping Los Angeles its fourth loss in five games.
Rivers insisted he isn’t the type to panic, but acknowledged not being too pleased about the current skid.
“It’s long to me,” Rivers said. “You lose three in a row, to me it’s a long losing streak.”
Lou Williams had 18 points, Greivis Vasquez scored 12 of his 17 in the fourth quarter and James Johnson returned from a four-game absence to score 16 as the Raptors swept the season series with the Clippers for the first time since 2009-10.
Blake Griffin scored 26, Chris Paul had 22 and Jamal Crawford 18 for the Clippers, who dropped to 2-4 on a season-high eight-game road trip that concludes with visits to Oklahoma City and Dallas.
“Guys need to step up, we need to find a way and we need to be better,” Griffin said. “You can’t get too low, but our sense of urgency needs to go sky high right now.”
The Raptors trailed 30-10 after a 3-pointer by Spencer Hawes at 2:34 of the first quarter. They responded with back-to-back 38-point efforts in the second and third to take a double-digit lead into the fourth, one they never relinquished.
“We came in the game with great energy and our defense was phenomenal in the first quarter,” Rivers said. “After that, we just never defended again. We’ve got to be a better defensive team than we were tonight.”
Nothing hurt the Clippers more, Rivers said, than “horrendous” defense on pick-and-rolls.
Toronto avoided losing three straight home games for the first time since dropping four straight between Nov. 26 and Dec. 10, 2013.
“I loved the way we bounced back,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey said. “I loved the fight and tenacity we had defensively against one of the top scoring teams in the league. I loved the way the guys responded.”
A 3 by Vasquez with 5:52 left gave Toronto a 24-point cushion at 119-95, their biggest of the game.
“We didn’t put up enough of a fight down the stretch,” Griffin said.
One night after Los Angeles received five technical fouls in a loss at Cleveland, including a contentious one to Paul, Griffin got a technical foul in the third quarter. It was the NBA-leading 59th technical foul for the Clippers this season.
Paul, who ignited a firestorm by criticizing the rookie female referee who gave him his technical Thursday, had little to say on the matter before the game. Asked about it three times, he answered each question with the same phrase, saying, “Last night was about a bad call.”
The Clippers return to Oklahoma City on Sunday for the first time since a 105-104 loss in Game 5 of last year’s second round. Griffin said he still has the entire series, which the Clippers lost in six games, on his iPad, and acknowledged that the Game 5 loss still hurts. “That game is still on my mind,” he said. “It’s the one game I’ve probably watched the most in the year’s time. I couldn’t tell you how many times I watched that over the summer.”
This was Toronto’s 25th consecutive sellout, their longest streak since a team-record 39-game stretch from November, 2001 to October, 2002. Toronto came in second to Cleveland in total home attendance through 27 dates this season.
Clippers: Hedo Turkoglu (illness) and J.J. Redick (back spasms) were unavailable. Austin Rivers started in place of Redick. ... DeAndre Jordan left late in the third, also with an illness, but returned before the end of the quarter.
Raptors: DeRozan narrowly missed a triple double, finishing with nine rebounds and eight assists. For the first time in his career, he led Toronto in points, rebounds and assists. ... Williams made three baskets in the first quarter, one more than in his previous two games combined.
Clippers: visit Thunder on Sunday afternoon.
Raptors: host Spurs on Sunday night.