LOS ANGELES (AP) — Kyle Lowry and the short-handed Toronto Raptors needed plenty of help from their reserves down the stretch to beat the Los Angeles Clippers.
Lowry scored 25 points and the resilient Raptors got 18 of their 30 fourth-quarter points from the bench on Saturday, a 110-98 victory that ended the Clippers eight-game home winning streak.
“That’s the biggest thing about this team. We’ve got a great bench and we feed off of each other,” backup guard Greivis Vasquez said. “It may not show in the stats, but a lot of different guys do a lot of different things. The second (unit) doesn’t get as much credit as the starters, but we don’t care.”
Jonas Valanciunas had 22 points and 11 rebounds for the defending Atlantic Division champion Raptors, who entered the day with a one-game lead over Atlanta for the best record in the Eastern Conference. Toronto was coming off a four-day break following Monday’s 129-120 loss at Chicago, which ended a six-game winning streak.
The Clippers’ Blake Griffin picked up his third foul and was replaced by Hedo Turkoglu with 10:50 left in the game. Vasquez responded with a pair of 3-pointers and a 17-footer during a 1:18 span to increase Toronto’s five-point lead to 93-80 with 9:03 to play.
“It felt like we ran out of gas before the game even started,” said Clippers point guard Chris Paul, who had 10 points and eight assists.
Griffin reported back in with 7:19 remaining and the Clippers down 95-82, but they got no closer than 12.
Lowry shot 9 of 17, after averaging 9.3 points and 27.5 percent from the field over his previous four games against the Clippers. DeMar DeRozan, the Raptors’ second-leading scorer, missed his 14th straight game because of a torn muscle in his left groin. Landry Fields was sidelined for the third game in a row with a concussion.
“We’re a full team. I mean, we need DeMar back, we want him back and we can’t wait for him to get back. But for now, we can’t make excuses because DeMar’s not playing,” Lowry said. “It’s all about the next man up. We’re a very deep team.”
J.J. Redick had 23 points and Griffin had 22 but it wasn’t enough as the Clippers lost at home for the first time since Chicago beat them on Nov. 17. Jamal Crawford added 20 off the bench, DeAndre Jordan grabbed 20 rebounds.
“Anytime you’re playing against a team coming off a four-day rest, the second half is going to be the toughest challenge,” Griffin said. “They came out in the second half and looked like they were fresh, and I didn’t think we responded well.”
The Raptors, who came in averaging 17.3 points off turnovers, converted 11 Clippers turnovers into 17 points during the first half and pulled into a 49-all tie at intermission after trailing by as many as eight.
Lowry then made a 3-pointer, a driving layup and a 19-footer in a span of 51 seconds to help Toronto increase its one-point lead to 76-68 with 2:33 left in third quarter.
“We were just playing with energy, and energy dictated the game,” Vasquez said.
Raptors: Toronto improved to 8-0 in the first half of back-to-back sets. They are 4-3 in the second game. … Toronto is 10-4 since DeRozan’s injury on Nov. 28 against Dallas. … Terrence Ross, who scored a franchise-record 51 pts against the Clippers in first meeting last season, has only 11 on Saturday. … The Raptors are 13-0 when holding opponents under 100 points. … Five of the Raptors’ six opponents on this road trip have winning records, with Denver the only exception.
Clippers: The longest home winning streak in franchise history is 13 games, set in 2012-13. … Paul missed both victories against the Raptors last season because of a separated right shoulder that sidelined him for 18 games. … This was one of nine day games on the team’s home schedule, including a New Year’s Eve matchup against the New York Knicks that begins at 3 p.m.
Raptors: At Denver on Sunday.
Clippers: Host Utah on Monday.
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