TORONTO (AP) – Paul George scored 23 points, Ivica Zubac had 23 points and 16 rebounds, and the Los Angeles Clippers won for the seventh time in nine games by beating the Toronto Raptors 124-113 yesterday.
Norman Powell scored 22 points off the bench and Kawhi Leonard had 15 as the two members of Toronto’s 2019 championship team returned to Canada for the first time since before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Leonard hadn’t played in Toronto since December 11, 2019, when he received his championship ring. Fans cheered when he was introduced before tipoff.
“It’s always great memories coming in this arena,” said Leonard, who sat out Monday’s win at Detroit. “I’d rather give the fans in Toronto the chance to see me play again. That was part of my decision.”
Reggie Jackson scored 20 points and Marcus Morris Sr added 10 as all five Clippers starters scored in double digits.
“This was one of our most complete games of the season,” Clippers coach Ty Lue said.
George made nine of 18 shot attempts, Jackson went nine for 15 and Zubac was seven for 13.
“He’s been amazing for us all year,” Lue said of Zubac. “He was a monster on the glass, 10 offensive rebounds.”
While the Raptors hadn’t played since December 23, the Clippers were on the second night of a back-to-back and didn’t reach their Toronto hotel until after 3am, arriving after rallying for an overtime victory over the Pistons.
Still, the difference in rest didn’t hurt Los Angeles.
“It just shows the level that we can play at no matter what’s against us when all the guys are locked in, focused and playing for one another,” Powell said.
Pascal Siakam scored 36 points, topping 25 for the career-high fifth straight game, and Scottie Barnes had 17 points and 13 rebounds as the Raptors’ home losing streak reached four.
One game after making a season-high 19 three-pointers in a road win at Cleveland, Toronto shot 6 for 23 from distance against the Clippers, matching a season-low. Toronto went one for nine from long range in the second half.
“I think the shots not going in are affecting our transition defence and it’s affecting our energy and fight a little bit,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said.
Gary Trent Jr scored 20 points, O.G. Anunoby had 18 and Malachi Flynn 10. Each made two three-pointers for the Raptors.
Toronto’s Fred VanVleet left in the first quarter to stretch out his sore lower back, then checked out again early in the third.
He finished with four points in 23 minutes and shot two for six, going zero for three from three-point range.
Ahead 60-56 at halftime, the Clippers extended their lead to 18 in the third behind 11 points from Powell. Los Angeles took a 97-82 lead to the fourth.