Raptors 104, Clippers 89
LOS ANGELES (AP)Usually when a team rallies from a deficit of 20 or more points, it spends so much energy getting back into the game that it has nothing left for the finish. The Toronto Raptors didn't encounter that problem at all.
After erasing a 22-point second-quarter deficit to the Los Angeles Clippers, the Raptors made four 3-point shots during a game-ending 16-0 run and ran away with a 104-89 victory on Friday night.
Chris Bosh had 21 points and 14 rebounds to help Toronto begin a four-game road trip on the right foot.
"We really needed this game. We've got a tough road trip, so it was important to start it in a good way," center Andrea Bargnani said. "We started the game very bad and they went up 20 points, but after halftime our defense was much better and that gave us the confidence to score the ball. We gave more effort and were more focused."
Bargnani had 19 points and Jose Calderon added 18 for the Raptors. Toronto's bench outscored Los Angeles' 35-20, including 15 by Marco Belinelli, and beat the Clippers at Staples Center for the fourth straight time.
"The guys from the bench were very important, especially because the starting five was so-so. We had to be ready and be aggressive when we came in, and play defense," Belinelli said after the Raptors tied a franchise record for the largest deficit overcome in a victory.
Chris Kaman, who fought through a virus to get 20 points and 11 rebounds in Wednesday's home loss at New Orleans, made his first five shots against the Raptors and finished with 25 points and seven rebounds in 36 minutes. But his layup with 8:18 left was the last field goal for the Clippers, who went scoreless over the final 6:58 and missed their last 12 shots.
"They were getting free on some pick-and-rolls and they hit some tough shots," said Clippers point guard Baron Davis, who had 17 points and seven assists. "We were still in the game, but we just turned the ball over down the stretch. We got off to a good start and were free-flowing on offense. But all of a sudden, we started shooting the ball four or five seconds into the shot clock and it just seemed like there was a lack of flow."
The teams entered the fourth quarter tied at 74, and the lead changed hands five times before Bargnani hit a 3-pointer to put Toronto ahead for good at 91-89 with 4:28 to play.
Antoine Wright added two free throws, and the Raptors got back-to-back 3s from Belinelli and Bargnani before Calderon capped the rally with a layup and another 3-pointer.
"We played a great second half," said Belinelli, who was 6 for 10 from the field and made three shots from behind the arc. "I have to be ready to take a shot, because that's my job."
The Clippers made 15 of 20 shots in the first quarter to jump out to a 34-17 lead against a club that had held them under 80 points in three of the previous four meetings - including both matchups last season. Steve Novak's 3-pointer increased the margin to 39-17, Los Angeles' biggest of the game.
"In the first half we were all a little flat, maybe because of the long plane ride," Wright said. "But in the last game, we played well in the second half. So I think we're starting to figure out what's going to help us win games. But we're going to have to learn from our first-half starts."
Kaman sat out the final 4:24 of the first half after picking up his third foul, and the Raptors were able to slice the deficit to 54-45 by intermission with a 16-5 run. They took their first lead, 63-62, on an 18-footer by Calderon with 6:39 left in the third quarter after a turnover by Marcus Camby.
"It definitely changed the course of the game," Wright said of Kaman's absence. "We had a guy who's been playing wonderful, and we knew coming into the game that we were going to have to do our best to make him as frustrated as possible. Amir Johnson did a good job of running him and making him have to work on both ends of the floor. And I think that frustrated him a little bit."
Raptors' 19-year-old swingman DeMar DeRozan, the ninth overall pick in the draft following his freshman year at USC, returned to Staples Center for the first time since being the MVP of the Pac-10 tournament and had two points in 11 minutes. He picked up his second foul with 7:35 left in the first quarter and spent the rest of the half on the bench.
NOTES: Toronto came in averaging the second-fewest turnovers in the league (12.5) and forcing the fewest per game (11.8). The Raptors ended up with 10 turnovers, and converted 17 Clippers turnovers into 24 points. ... The Raptors are 30-44 since Jay Triano replaced Sam Mitchell as head coach on Dec. 3. ... The Clippers have lost six of seven to Toronto. ... F Reggie Evans, who has yet to make his Raptors debut because of a sprained left foot, did not make the trip.