Toronto Raptors

Paul George sparks game-clinching run as Toronto Raptors falter late in finale of West Coast road trip

#FVV #PG
(NBA Getty Images)

Playing their fourth game in six nights, there was no shortage of effort and fight from the shorthanded Raptors.

However, a late scoring drought meant a 105-100 loss to former teammate Kawhi Leonard and the LA Clippers, returning home from the road trip with a 1-3 record.

Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet led the fight, combining for 51 points, 15 assists, nine rebounds and five steals but they couldn't ice it late.

If you missed any of the action, we have you covered with some thoughts below.

1. Raptors remained undermanned

Kyle Lowry, who was coming off his season-high game-winning performance against the Lakers a couple of nights earlier, was a late addition to the injury list and missed this game with back stiffness.

With Lowry joining OG Anunoby, Chris Boucher and Gary Trent Jr. on the injury list, Fred VanVleet returned to the starting line-up to have a first-five of VanVleet, Stanley Johnson, Yuta Watanabe, Pascal Siakam, and Khem Birch.

This was the 32nd different starting lineup Toronto has used in 66 games this season.

2. Siakam and FVV lead gutsy fight

Against the Lakers, it was Lowry and Siakam. In this contest versus the Clippers, it was Siakam and VanVleet that led the way.

The Raptors starting point guard recorded game-high tallies of 27 points and 13 assists in 41 minutes of action. As the team recorded 22, his 13 dimes are a season-high and just one shy of his career-high.

Meanwhile, Siakam finished with 24 points, seven rebounds and three steals. He started the game on fire, scoring 11 points in the first quarter and helping the Raptors hold a 34-28 lead after the first 12 minutes.

3. Hello Jalen Harris!

Given how few players were available, playing time was up for grabs and Jalen Harris made the most of the court time he received.

The 59th pick of the 2020 NBA Draft, Harris played a season-high 13 minutes in this game and finished with a season-high tally of 11 points on a perfect 4-of-4 from the field including three 3s.

4. PG sparks late game-sealing run

The Raptors led for a majority of the two quarters and even led by six (94-88) with just over five minutes remaining. They looked set to sweep the games in Los Angeles but they faltered late as Paul George took over late.

The leading contributor for the Clippers with 22 points, nine rebounds and four assists, George instigated the team's 17-6 game-clinching run over the final 5:07 minutes.

George, who was debuting his 'PlayStation' Nike PG 5 in this game, was responsible for 10 of the Clippers' final 17 points.

5. Kawhi Leonard's quiet return

Suiting up for his second consecutive game, after missing nine of the previous 10, Leonard had a quiet night against the Raptors.

Playing 33 minutes, the former Finals MVP finished with just 13 points and five assists.

The points tally and his six field-goal attempts are both season-lows with Leonard's previous low in shots attempted this season being 11.

This game now takes his averages against the Raptors to 16.0 points, 6.7 assists and 6.3 rebounds in the three games since leaving the franchise after leading them to an NBA title in 2019.

6. Short goodbye

There were plenty of candid moments postgame as Serge Ibaka, who hasn't suited up for a game since Mar. 14 dealing with injuries, came over to say hello.

Both teams are set to meet again in a week when the Raptors host the Clippers in Tampa at 7:30 p.m. EST on May 11.

Will the Clippers sweep the season series or will the Raptors make sure it's split? Since the 2012-13 season, six of the seven season-series between both teams have been swept by one or the other.

7. What's next?

The Clippers have a day off before hosting their city rivals and the defending champions in the Los Angeles Lakers.

Meanwhile, the Raptors head back to Tampa, after this 1-3 Western Conference road trip, and host the Washington Wizards after a day off on Thursday at 7:30 p.m EST.

It's a huge game for Toronto as this would be their last chance to take a big chunk out of the Wizards' 3.5-game lead on the 10th seed in the East.

"That's probably our Last Chance Saloon," Raptors head coach Nick Nurse said postgame. "Them getting that one against us would be awful tough for us to recover from. If we get it it puts us in there legitimately... It would certainly go a long ways to keeping us in the race, for sure."

The Raptors need to outright have a better record than the Wizards as Washington have already clinched the tiebreaker by winning the earlier two head-to-head matchups.

Catch you then.

The views expressed here do not represent those of the NBA or its clubs.

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