Maybe the Clippers should have seen this one coming.
In a season of mostly highs, they’ve hit a few lows. But Friday night’s embarrassing 98-73 defeat to the Raptors in Toronto was arguably the lowest.
The 25-point difference was the Clippers’ largest ever in a loss to the Raptors. The 73 points was their lowest point total this season. So was their 34.7 shooting percentage. They made more turnovers (14) than assists (12).
“We didn’t execute very well, we didn’t shoot it very well, we struggled in a lot of areas,” Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro told Prime Ticket. “Bottom line is, we got out-worked. Toronto played with much better energy. We got out-rebounded, and offensively we couldn’t make any shots.”
On occasion, the Clippers have slumped against poor opponents. Among their 14 losses are setbacks to Cleveland, New Orleans, Orlando and Phoenix. Add the Raptors (17-30) to that group.
The Clippers played the game without reserve forward Matt Barnes, who served a one-game suspension after he struck Minnesota’s Greg Stiemsma in the neck Wednesday night. His loss affected roles and rotations, but it’s likely the result would have been similar.
New Raptor Rudy Gay, in his debut game following the three-way trade with Memphis and Detroit this week, was a smashing success. He entered the game in the opening quarter and finished with 20 points, including three 3-pointers.
Toronto had lost eight of its previous 10 games, but it essentially took control in the second quarter, holding the Clippers to just 13 points on 3-of-15 shooting.
That’s bad. The Raptors closed out the first half with a 17-2 run and held LA to 29 percent from the floor. The Clippers missed 27 of 38 shots in the half.
“They jumped on us, (they) got a lead,” Del Negro said. “We took too many jump shots … They were a step quicker, a step faster. No excuses.”
Across the board, the Clippers had horrendous nights shooting. Blake Griffin was 4 of 11, Caron Butler 3 of 12, Eric Bledsoe 4 of 14, Jamal Crawford 5 of 17 and Willie Green 1 of 5.
The loss leaves the Clippers with a 1-1 record on the start of their eight-game trip. They play a back-to-back set Sunday and Monday in Boston and Washington, and it’s a chance to recover from this disaster.
In the past, they’ve usually played well after losing to underachieving opponents. Although they didn’t have Barnes and still don’t have injured Chris Paul or Chauncey Billups, Del Negro said they need to muster some energy going forward.
“We need all the guys right now to manage what we’re going through,” Del Negro said. “We’ve just got to stay together, handle this trip, handle the next game and play much better. We know what the Celtics are going to do, but we have to bring the energy, effort and the enthusiasm, especially in tough times.”