Kawhi Leonard didn’t have any sympathy towards Toronto Raptors, and he and his Clippers were ruthless in Canada tonight. The guests won 112-92, and Kawhi played an excellent game against the team he led to the NBA title last year.
The Claw was welcomed at the Scotiabank Arena like an emperor, with standing ovations, MVP chants, and with a lot of love. The tribute videos and projections of all of his important plays for the Raptors, like the basket from Game 7 against the Philadelphia 76 were simply astonishing.
“I was joking earlier that would be a great intro,” Doc Rivers said about the program which preceded the match.
Leonard would finally get his championship ring, which was handed to him by Kyle Lowry.
“I thought what the Raptors did overall – the video, the players coming out, all of them who played with him…That’s the best that I’ve seen since I’ve been in the league,”Rivers said after the game.
However, on the court, there wasn’t any love, and the reigning NBA Finals MVP posted 23 points, had 6 assists, 5 boards, and two steals, all that while shooting 8 for 14 from the field. He had a team-high for the guests from LA.
“Still love the city. … they did a great job last year embracing me, embracing the team,” he said.
The Raptors held on until the middle of the second period, which was when guests began to increase the tempo. At first, they went on 14-4 run to get away to a double-digit lead, increasing it afterward to 18 points at the halftime, 64-46.
For a brief moment, the hosts came back, in the third, cutting the deficit down to just five points on two occasions. But the response from the other side was more than strong, with the Clippers shutting down the home team’s offense in the last 3:43 and making a 12-0 burst to take an 88-71 advantage.
It was all routine in the fourth period, with the distance being around 20 points in guests’ favor.
What was the biggest problem for the Raptors was the shooting percentage. Nick Nurse’s guys posted just 35.2% from the field, 31 for 88, and were surprisingly bad from behind the three-point line, 8 for 36. On the other side, the guests didn’t shine either, but their 44.3% were way better than Toronto’s shooting productivity.
Besides Kawhi, Lou Williams had a solid game with 18 points, 8 dimes, and 6 boards. Paul George scored 14, but with poor shooting from downtown, 2 for 12. Mo Harkless scored 14, and Patrick Beverly 11, but he left the game early in the third due to a concussion. He was hit with an elbow to his head by Marc Gasol.
“It was a pretty hard hit,” Rivers told about Beverly’s situation. “We’ll see.”
Pascal Siakam and Norman Powell led the way for the hosts. Siakam scored 24 points, Powell had 22. Kyle Lowry had another very poor performance, posting just 6 points, while shooting 1 for 8 from the field, missing all seven three-point attempts.
Marc Gasol would grab 11 boards had 6 assists with 9 points.
Up next, the Raptors (16-8) host the Brooklyn Nets on Saturday night, and after that the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday. They have four losses in the previous five games.
On the other side, the Clippers (19-7) have two more stops before coming back home. The first is in Minnesota on Friday and vs. Chicago Bulls on Friday.
Nikola Velickovic is a sports journalist who loves to write and read on all sports. Nikola contributes both news updates and functions as a sports breaking news writer at WagerBop.