The Clippers let a 83-63 late third quarter lead evaporate in the midst of a 28-7 run by the Raptors – but Los Angeles held on to defeat Toronto 104-98 in their preseason home opener Wednesday night.
It was a measure of redemption for the Clippers after they went up north and got blasted by the Golden State Warriors, their worst preseason loss since 1985.
If you’re following, the Clippers completed the triangle: They beat the Raptors, who beat the Warriors, who beat the Clippers.
Enough nonsense – Clippers PF Blake Griffin shined against the Raptors on the second night of a back to back, scoring a game-high 24 points (10/13 FGs) with 8 rebounds, 5 assists, and only 2 turnovers. We know Griffin is capable of those digits. What is more intriguing is the perimeter shooting, as Griffin made 2 of the 3 threes he attempted. Griffin has only five career games where he made two threes. This one you may remember the most:
.@blakegriffin32 (2/3 threes tonight) has 5 career games with 2 threes made
Perhaps this was the most memorable:https://t.co/s6yAcuoSe1
— ClipperBlog (@clipperblog) October 6, 2016
Overall, the Clippers needed to look like an NBA team after Wednesday night, and besides Griffin, that goal was achieved. Chris Paul had a game-high 5 of the Clippers’ 27 turnovers, but he dropped 15 dimes, 6 of them going to Griffin. Paul took advantage of a Toronto squad resting PG Kyle Lowry, but it’s a big improvement from Wednesday night when Paul had only 1 assist (and none to Griffin).
The Clippers rested SG J.J. Redick, so head coach Doc Rivers tried something different, entering small guards Raymond Felton and Austin Rivers into the starting lineup along with Paul (SF Luc Mbah a Moute did not play Wednesday night). Rivers improved somewhat on his 0/8 FGs from Tuesday night, scoring 10 points on 4/9 FGs. Felton played a game-high 36:15, scoring 17 points and making all 8 of his free throws.
If there were concerns for the Clippers, it was that:
- Another top SG went off against them (DeMar DeRozan had 20 points on 8/11 FGs in just under 18 minutes)
- Brady Heslip came in with 8:57 left in regulation and turned a 16-point Clippers lead into a 1-point Raptors lead in just over 5 minutes.
Back to Griffin. He is this team’s biggest improvement. The Clippers went 24-14 in games that Paul Pierce started last season (Pierce did not play Wednesday night). Only 3 of those games were with Griffin. With Griffin healthy, motivated (he can opt out of his deal next offseason), and equipped with a new tool (occasional threes), the Clippers have an opportunity to be a better offensive team in 2016-2017.
Speaking of offense…
— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) October 6, 2016