The Toronto Raptors‘ slump continued with their 112-92 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers. The Clippers have handily swept the season series against the Raptors 2-0. Toronto’s record moves to 16-8 after the contest and keeps them ranked fifth in the Eastern Conference.

The gap between Toronto and the top four ranked teams continues to grow, while the sixth place Indiana Pacers (16-9) look to jump ahead. The Pacers face the Atlanta Hawks on Friday and winning will allow them to leap ahead of the Raptors.

More Of The Same

The problems the Raptors found themselves facing against the Clippers are the same problems that have been haunting them for 5 games. Shots are not falling as they shot a season-low 22% (8/36) from three-point range. Also they had 21 assists on the night, which is a significant drop off from the 25.1 that they average this season. Their fast break points were well below average at 12 compared to 18.6 per game as well.

Toronto’s 35.2% (31/88) shooting from the field was a season low. The Raptors lack of effective shot creators is doing them a disservice and was only highlighted against Kawhi Leonard. Toronto has very few players that are able to be individual offensive threats. Against high-level competition a single player having a bad game will result in a loss.  Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka shooting a combined 6.25% (1/16)  cannot happen because there’s nobody to save the team when things go downhill. The Raptors have been legitimately relying on Norman Powell as a shot creator when things go poorly, especially with Pascal Siakam going seemingly invisible throughout this last stretch of games.

Stormin’ Norman Powell

Norman Powell has been playing exceptionally well as of late. Since his season-high 33 point performance against the Magic he’s retained the momentum, averaging 18.9 points on 54% shooting. In the starter role especially he’s shined as his averages jump to 21.8 points per start on 56% shooting. He’s consistently attacking the basket, running the fast break, leading the team when they attempt a comeback and staying active on defence. If Powell continues on this pace he could establish himself as the starting shooting guard on a team that has been attempting to play two point guards in their starting unit. That change of dynamic could be necessary moving forward.

The Raptors’ Rough Stretch

This month has been rough for Raptors fans and rightfully so. December is the hardest month the Raptors will have this season in terms of strength of schedule. 16 games is the most the Raptors will play in any month this season. 10 of those 16 games are against teams with 50%+ win percentage. This difficult spike is only further accentuated by the phenomenal 10-3 November the team had.

Toronto will host the Brooklyn Nets (13-11) in what should be a competitive match on Saturday. This game kicks off a relatively light four-game stretch. A win against Brooklyn can result in the Raptors gaining some momentum for the rest of this month.