Article content

The Raptors can officially be described as road warriors, a tough and gritty unit that returns home following an epic trip.

Advertisement 2

Article content

The team’s extended stay away from Toronto began with a loss in Cleveland.

The Raptors then reeled off five wins in succession, including Wednesday night’s 103-100 nailbiter over the Clippers as Toronto swept LA’s two hoops teams in a three-night span.

Toronto’s win improved its record to 39-30 and moved it into a tie for sixth place with the Cavs, who hold the tiebreaker.

The teams will hook up in Toronto next week.

In a best-case scenario, it would have been considered a good trip had the Raptors gone 3-3.

By going 5-1, Toronto’s trip might be remembered as a season defining if it is able to sustain the momentum created on the road.

Pascal Siakam is playing at a very high level.

The Raptors have lapses in their play, but find ways to step up in big moments.

advertisement 3

Article content

They compete, work hard, play together and now the Raptors come home with plenty to play for as the post-season battle officially begins.

The Raptors went on a 15-4 run to end the opening half.

They were active defensively, assignment sound and yet again played hard on every possession.

Toronto did a lot of good things other than protect the basketball.

They were near flawless in the opening period and then turned it over six times in the second quarter.

Offensively, the catalysts were Toronto’s two best players in Siakam and Fred VanVleet.

The tandem combined for 30 points on 12-for-20 shooting from the field as the visitors took a 54-44 advantage into the break.

Siakam did a lot of his scoring by going to his patented spin moves in the paint.

advertisement 4

Article content

He began the second half by scoring five straight points to give Toronto its biggest lead.

A three-pointer gave Siakam his 20th point of the night to extend his career-high streak of scoring 20 or more points to eight games.

Trending on Canadian News  'Question marks' around Carey Price's future as knee issues persist

Two nights earlier, the Raptors blew out the host Lakers.

The Clippers, who were coming off an Eastern trip, were competitive from the opening tip and much more engaged than their co-tenants at Crypto.com Arena.

While the Raptors are eyeing a top-six seed in the East, the Clippers seem destined for the play-in tournament.

They remain without the team’s two stars in Kawhi Leonard, who has yet to play this season, and Paul George.

At least the Clippers don’t throw in the towel.

LA ended the third quarter by going on a 9-0 run.

advertisement 5

Article content

The Raptors went scoreless in the final 3:47 of the period.

GUARDED OPTIMISM

With Toronto’s backcourt in flux in the wake of injuries, it took out an insurance policy by signing Armoni Brooks to a second-day contract.

When he signed his first 10-day deal, Brooks appeared in four games and started in Denver Saturday for VanVleet, who played the previous night in Phoenix.

VanVleet was listed as questionable for Toronto’s matchup versus the Clippers.

During Toronto’s extended stay in LA, VanVleet visited a specialist.

Gary Trent Jr. (non-COVID illness) was also questionable, but he too was in the starting lineup, a unit that featured Khem Birch at the center.

The Raptors continue to be without Malachi Flynn (hamstring).

advertisement 6

Article content

We apologize, but this video has failed to load.

Flynn was playing well at the time of his setback.

In the absence of guards capable of bringing the ball up the floor and orchestrating an offense, Toronto has used Siakam and rookie Scottie Barnes as de facto point guards.

Wednesday’s game began with VanVleet drilling the evening’s first basket on a transition three.

Trent Jr. followed his backcourt mate’s lead by knocking down his own three-ball.

When Thaddeus Young entered the game with 3:22 left in the opening quarter, it was Siakam bringing the ball up the floor.

The only other starter on the court was Trent Jr. in a lineup featuring Chris Boucher and Precious Achiuwa.

Achiuwa showed off his handle late in the period when he drew an extra defender in the lane and kicked it out to Young in the left pocket.

advertisement 7

Article content

Young buried his look as Toronto took a 28-26 lead.

In the game’s opening 12 minutes, the Raptors committed one turnover and forced four LA turnovers.

OG ON THE MEND

Trending on Canadian News  Saskatoon police investigating single vehicle rollover

Injured forward OG Anunoby was able to practice with the Raptors when the team prepared for the Clippers.

There’s no time table for his return.

Anunoby, it seems, has always dealt with some kind of injury during his career.

In fact, he’s yet to appear in 70 games since Anunoby’s rookie year in 2017.

He’s missed 26 games and counting this season.

His latest mishap involves a fracture to his right ring finger.

Anunoby is right-handed.

He hasn’t played since the all-star break.

During that 11-game stretch entering Wednesday night, the Raptors were 6-5 without Anunoby.

advertisement 8

Article content

Clearly, the Raptors are better with Anunoby available.

We apologize, but this video has failed to load.

TY TOUTS SCOTTIE

Clippers head coach Ty Lue said during his pre-game availability how Barnes reminds him of Golden State’s Draymond Green from a defensive perspective.

Green is an elite defender who is versatile and tough as nails.

Personality-wise, there’s no comparison.

Barnes had a rare shot blocked on a drive to the basket early in the second half.

Birch came down with the rebound and went hard to the rim for a basket.

Birch played well at both ends and was especially aggressive on the offensive glass.

He picked up his third foul mid-way through the third period and replaced by Achiuwa.

[email protected]

advertisement 1

Comments

Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion and encourage all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments may take up to an hour for moderation before appearing on the site. We ask you to keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications—you will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, there is an update to a comment thread you follow or if a user follows comments. Visit our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your e-mail settings.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.