The Raptors fought valiantly in the second game of a tough back-to-back in Los Angeles, but ultimately fell to Kawhi Leonard and the Los Angeles Clippers losing 98-88 in a defensive grit and grind match-up.

Lou Williams led all scorers with 21 points and was aided greatly by Montrezl Harrell’s 14 points and 11 Rebounds. The Raptors did a phenomenal job neutralizing reigning Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard, holding him to just 12 points on 18% shooting. Leonard was still able to help his team however, grabbing 11 rebounds, snatching 3 steals and finding his teammates for 9 assists.

The Raptors put forth a balanced effort on the offensive end, with Pascal Siakam putting up 16 points and 10 rebounds for a double-double. He was followed by Fred VanVleet, Norman Powell and Chris Boucher’s 15, 14 and 13 points respectively.

Next Man Up

The “next man up” mentality payed dividends for the Raptors through 3 quarters. It was in the final quarter of play that the Clippers started to take control. The Raptors scored an underwhelming 5 field goals for 10 points in the fourth. Shots weren’t falling and it seemed to be an issue of fatigue. VanVleet and Siakam combined for 89 minutes of play last night after playing for 81 minutes on Sunday. Coach Nurse simply did not have enough bodies to put on the floor to utilize and that is because the injury bug has plagued the Raptors as of late. 

Toronto was hit with another injury as OG Anunoby exited the game with 10:13 remaining in the first quarter. He got poked in the eye as he battled for a rebound against ex-teammate Kawhi Leonard. He went to the locker room and did not return to the court for the rest of the game and is set to see an eye specialist on Tuesday. The Raptors may now have to deal with injuries to four key rotation pieces as the severity of Anunoby’s injury might have him join Kyle Lowry, Serge Ibaka and Patrick McCaw on the shelf.

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson played significant minutes in place of Anunoby’s and he was impressive. He had 9 points, grabbed 9 rebounds and had 3 steals in the contest. More notable than his production however, was his effort against Kawhi Leonard on the defensive end. His effort and hustle was a significant reason for Leonard’s career-high 9 turnovers.

Rebounding Problems 

The biggest issue for the Raptors this game was their rebounding. The Raptors rank last in the league in second chance points at 7.5 points per game. Their 14.3 points allowed also ranks them in the bottom third of the league. This showed last night when the Raptors relinquished a ghastly 20 offensive rebounds on top of 46 defensive rebounds. Toronto’s 5 offensive boards and 33 defensive rebounds simply could not stand in comparison. Especially against a Clippers team that ranks first in second chance points.

Even Boucher’s impressive play could not fully replace the hole left in Serge Ibaka’s absence. With Ibaka expected to miss significant time moving forward, this is an issue that needs to be addressed.

The Raptors have a day off Tuesday before continuing their trek through the Western Conference. They’ll move on to Portland to take on Damian Lillard and the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday at 10:00 PM/EST. The day off should serve them well as they move forward to pit their scrappy defence against a potent offensive team.