Kawhi Leonard, Clippers Beats Raptors in Heroic Return to Toronto
Kawhi Leonard’s return was nothing more than a momentary distraction from the Toronto Raptors current funk.
Losers of 3 of their last four games, the Raptors fell to the Los Angeles Clippers in what was the long-awaited return to Toronto for one Kawhi Leonard. The Clippers superstars spent last season north of the border, leading the Raptors to their first NBA championship. Scoring a team-high 23 points, the Clippers rolled past a flat Raptors team by a score of 112-92.
“I thought we came out pretty revved-up and executed pretty well,” Raptors’ head coach Nick Nurse said. “I thought we were really flying around out there and it looked liked it was going to be a hell of a ball game.
And (then) we went through a really dry spell offensively that deflated us, I think, all the way through the second quarter and into the half.”
Falling down 18 points at the half, the Raptors came out strong in the third quarter, coming within five points at the mid-way point, before collapsing. The offensive issues continued to persist as the Raptors shot 35 percent from the field and a putrid eight-for-36 (22%) from long range.
“You’d like to say you can’t limit your offence, you’ve still got to play,” Nurse said. “But when it’s a few games in a row, it’s a little deflating. I think it deflated us tonight when we were ready to go. I thought we were locked-in, executing, making the plays we wanted to make at both ends, and the ball was going in a bit. We turned it over a bit carelessly and we can’t do that. We have to vault up and knock some in, then that energy stays a little higher.”
Pascal Siakam and Norman Powell combined for 48 points in the loss, while Kyle Lowry struggled mightily with his shooting, finishing 1-for-8 from the field.
“I just don’t think our energy overall has been good as a team,” said Pascal Siakam. “We’ve got to find a way because that’s how we play at our best, when we have energy and we’re flying around. That’s Toronto basketball.”
On the bright side, Patrick McCaw made his return to the floor after missing the past month with a knee issue. The Raptors will now get some much-needed extra time off as they don’t play their next game until Saturday when they welcome the Kyrie Irving-less Brooklyn Nets to town