November 21, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin (32) moves in to score a basket against Toronto Raptors center Jonas Valanciunas (17) during the second half at Staples Center. (Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports)
Gary A. Vasquez/Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
LOS ANGELES (AP) — The streaking Clippers are playing with purpose. Even after handling a quality opponent, they hardly sounded satisfied.
Chris Paul had 26 points and 12 assists, Blake Griffin also scored 26 and Los Angeles beat the Toronto Raptors 123-115 on Monday night in a matchup of early-season division leaders.
“We got stops early in the beginning of the second half and got in transition and got buckets,” Griffin said. “We haven't been as good in the last three games in my opinion, but it's still great to start out like this.”
DeAndre Jordan added 17 points and 15 rebounds for the Clippers, who improved the NBA's best record to 13-2 with their 10th victory in 11 games.
J.J. Redick scored 20 points as Los Angeles snapped a four-game losing streak to Toronto. Jamal Crawford had 12 and Luc Mbah a Moute chipped in with 10.
“We still have to be better. There was a lot of turnovers, fouls, and we gave up easy buckets for Toronto down the stretch,” Paul said.
The Clippers led by 17 in the second half but the Raptors cut the margin to 119-115 on a 3-pointer by Kyle Lowry with less than a minute to play.
Redick made four free throws down the stretch to seal it.
“We scrapped and fought and didn't lay down even after what happened to us last night,” Toronto coach Dwane Casey said, referring to a close loss at Sacramento that ended with a disputed call.
“We got enough offense but until we improve on defense and get stops, we aren't going anywhere. It seems like every game we play lately is an offensive slugfest.”
Lowry led Toronto with 27 points and DeMar DeRozan, averaging 31.4 per game, added 25. Jonas Valanciunas scored 15 for the Raptors.
The Clippers outrebounded Toronto 42-32.
“Blake is doing everything for us. The fact that he can bring the ball up and make decisions gives us another dimension offensively,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said.
It was the second time this season Toronto (8-6) dropped both ends of back-to-back games. The Raptors, who played for the fifth time in seven nights, have lost four of five.
The teams traded 10-0 runs late in the second quarter. Redick's three free throws with less than a second remaining gave the Clippers a 54-45 lead at halftime.
Raptors: Lowry, DeRozan and Jordan were teammates on the 2016 USA Olympic Men's Basketball team that won the gold medal in Rio.
Clippers: Entering the game, Los Angeles led the NBA with a plus-13.7 points per game differential over its opponents and was second in the league in scoring defense, giving up 95.4 points per game. … F Wesley Johnson returned after missing the previous five games with an injured left heel. He played 12 minutes and had three rebounds. … Jordan shot 9 of 14 on free throws and has made 1,007 in his career.
Mbah a Moute and Raptors F Pascal Siakam are two of the three active NBA players from Cameroon. The game marked the first time in league history two players from Cameroon faced each other.
At the end of Sunday night's Toronto-Sacramento game, Terrence Ross' 3-pointer at the buzzer off an inbounds play would have sent the game to overtime, but after a replay review the basket was disallowed and the Raptors lost 102-99. The play was ruled a clock malfunction because the inbounds pass was deflected, and officials said the clock should have started once the ball was touched.
“I thought it was unfair. I think the game is human error. I don't think you should be able to go over and look at the clock and do that,” Rivers said. “I thought it was awful. I really do. I know they, meaning the league, came back and said it was the right call, but I still disagree. If they reviewed every play, our games would take 16 hours.”
Casey wasn't seeking any sympathy.
“Sometimes bad things happen in life to you. It's how you bounce back after a game like that that counts. There are 29 other teams that don't feel sorry for us,” he said.
Paul is the only NBA player since 1983-84 with 120 assists, 42 steals and only 28 turnovers in the first 14 games of a season.
Raptors: Toronto continues a five-game road trip, its second-longest of the season, on Wednesday at Houston. The Raptors are winless in their last nine visits to Houston.
Clippers: Los Angeles embarks on a six-game road trip with its first stop in Dallas on Wednesday. The Clippers are 6-0 away from home, the longest road winning streak to start a season in franchise history.