Rapid Reaction: Raptors 98, Clippers 73
February, 1, 2013
By Arash Markazi | ESPNLosAngeles.com
Before the Los Angeles Clippers embarked on their 14-day, eight-game road trip, Blake Griffin was asked what his expectations were for the trip.
“Our expectation is to win them all," Griffin said. "That's our mindset. We're capable of doing that."
The Clippers may have been capable of doing that, but they certainly didn’t look like it on Friday night, as the Toronto Raptors dismantled them, 98-73, in the most lopsided Clippers loss of the season. The Clippers were down by as many as 31 points in the game, and it was easily the most embarrassing performance the team has had this season.
Here are three takeaways from the game:
Can’t buy a bucket
The Clippers, like most teams, are a better shooting team at home than on the road, but their shooting display in Toronto was downright embarrassing. They shot just 34.7 percent from the field and 15.8 percent from beyond the arc, and simply could not get anything going after the first quarter. The Clippers scored just 45 points through three quarters against the Raptors -- their lowest point total through three quarters since 2003. Their final tally of 73 represented their fewest total points in a game since 2010. There was some concern that they might actually fail to pass the franchise record for fewest points scored in a game, which was 64 in 2003, heading into the fourth quarter.
No Barnes, big problem
No one player would have helped the Clippers overcome their dreadful performance in Toronto, but the fact that the Clippers found out they would be without Matt Barnes, in addition to Chris Paul and Chauncey Billups, prior to the game certainly didn’t help. Barnes was suspended by the NBA on Friday without pay for striking the neck of Minnesota Timberwolves center Greg Stiemsma during the second quarter of Wednesday night's game. If the Clippers had Paul and Billups, maybe the loss of Barnes wouldn’t have been so noticeable, but there is only so much the Clippers’ depth can be tested. A Western Conference scout said earlier this season that Barnes, who is averaging 11.1 points, 5.1 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 1.2 steals per game, is the Clippers’ X factor, and on some nights he is more important than Jamal Crawford. Barnes might not have made the difference on Friday night, but he certainly wouldn’t have hurt.
The question for the Clippers now as they head into the meat of their road schedule against Boston, Washington, Orlando, Miami, New York and Philadelphia is how they will respond to their worst loss of the season. Many times this season, the Clippers have let losses linger and will go on to lose one, two or three more games. The Clippers can’t afford to do that during this critical stretch of the season. They get Barnes back for Sunday’s game against Boston, and there’s a chance Paul and Billups will return at some point during this trip, but even if they don’t, the Clippers have to find ways to win without them. They were able to blow out teams in the first three games Paul missed, but have been in dogfights ever since and are just 5-4 without Paul in the lineup.