Raptors search for answers vs. Kawhi Leonard, Clippers

NBA Basketball

The visiting Los Angeles Clippers will be out to complete a two-game season sweep of the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday night at Tampa.

Last week at Los Angeles, the Clippers defeated the Raptors 105-100 in the first meeting of the season between the teams.

The Clippers (45-23) are trying to clinch third place in the Western Conference as they start a four-game road trip to complete their regular season.

The Raptors (27-41) have four games remaining, two of them at home, including the game against the Clippers. Toronto’s already faint playoff hopes took another hit Saturday when they lost 109-99 to the visiting Memphis Grizzlies.

Since Kawhi Leonard changed teams and headed to Los Angeles, the Raptors have lost three consecutive games against the Clippers.

Toronto last defeated Los Angeles on Feb. 3, 2019, with Leonard scoring 18 points for the Raptors. After Toronto won the NBA championship that season, Leonard moved on as a free agent.

The Clippers finished their regular-season home schedule on Sunday with a 106-100 loss to the New York Knicks and have dropped four of their past six games.

Leonard scored 29 points in 36 minutes against the Knicks. It was the first time he has been allowed to play in 12-minutes stretches since returning from a foot injury on May 1. He played the complete first and third quarters.

“We were in the mud a little bit on the offensive end, it felt like, just moving too slow into picks, or just getting to that spacing on the floor, but overall, you’ve got to give the Knicks credit, they played a good game, played hard,” Leonard said. “And with us, we’ve just got to keep getting better, limit those turnovers and try to play with some type of pace.”

The Clippers’ Nicolas Batum scored 13 points off the bench and promised afterward that the Clippers are in a good spot.

“We’ve got four games left to figure it out,” Batum said. “We’re going to be OK. We don’t have to worry about it. The coaching staff tries to reset the rotations to get ready for the playoffs. So we just have to get going, get it together, and we’ll be all right.”

The Raptors’ Pascal Siakam scored 18 points against Memphis but left the game with a left shoulder strain after the third quarter. Siakam was to have a further examination of the injury Monday and said he was “day-to-day.”

Rodney Hood left the same game in the fourth quarter with a fractured finger.

The Raptors were out of sync offensively for most of the game against Memphis.

“I don’t know if it’s unfamiliarity,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said. “I like to have a little more composure, work for a little better (shots). We took some tough shots, and you’re going to have to do that sometime and you’re going to have to make some tough shots. … But I am of the mindset that we should probe longer. Then you take those tougher shots in the latter part of the shot clock.”

Nurse will be looking toward the future during these final four games. He said he is evaluating if players are playing “winning basketball.”

“And I don’t mean by the scoreboard,” Nurse said. “I mean are they in each possession, playing the right way and (doing) things that’ll help us translate to winning basketball.”

–Field Level Media

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