Kawhi Leonard Dominant as Clippers Cruise Past Raptors in Easy Win

Blake SchusterSenior Analyst IIIMay 12, 2021

Los Angeles Clippers guard Paul George (13) shoots over Toronto Raptors forward Chris Boucher (25) during the second half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, May 11, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

The Los Angeles Clippers bounced back from a six-point loss to the New York Knicks on Sunday by finishing off a season-series sweep over the Toronto Raptors with a 115-96 victory at Amalie Arena on Tuesday.

LA Clippers @LAClippers

Tough cover. 📺@BallySportWest |📱 https://t.co/SxvCDP1Us0 https://t.co/SxZEmS7Jys

The win guarantees the Clippers will remain in possession of the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference regardless of the outcome in the Denver Nuggets' contest against the Charlotte Hornets.

Denver entered Tuesday in fourth place, a full game back of the Clips, and needed an L.A. loss to stay in contention for a top-three spot. Meanwhile, the Clippers can cut into the Phoenix Suns' hold on the No. 2 seed with a Golden State Warriors victory Tuesday. The Suns are three games up on L.A. with three games to play.

The Raptors have already been eliminated from making the playoffs in the Eastern Conference. The best they could do was play spoiler against former Toronto star Kawhi Leonard. Instead the small forward went off for 20 points in the win.

Notable Performers

Kawhi Leonard, SF, Los Angeles Clippers: 20 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals

Paul George, SG, Los Angeles Clippers: 16 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists

Chris Boucher, PF, Toronto Raptors: 16 points, 7 rebounds

Freddie Gillespie, PF, Toronto Raptors: 10 points, 7 rebounds, 3 blocks

Leonard Surges, George Struggles In Win

The last time Leonard faced the franchise he won the 2019 NBA title with—all of one week ago—the forward posted one of his worst performances of the year, scoring a season-low 13 points in 33 minutes. Round 2 worked out much better.

Leonard had nine points in the first quarter on 3-of-4 shooting and finished the half with 14 points before dropping six more in the final frames. As the Clippers move ever closer to a monumental postseason run, at least one of their marquee players is beginning to find his rhythm.

LA Clippers @LAClippers

Cool start for Kawhi. He's got 14 points (5-7 FG), six rebounds, two assists, and one steal in the first half. https://t.co/srx7kLZ6pS

George struggled mightily in finding his shot against a depleted Toronto team. The usually steady outside shooter went 5-for-15 from the field on Tuesday, including 2-for-9 behind the arc. Since the start of May, George has taken more than five three-point attempts in four outings. He couldn't drain more than three of those attempts in any of those outings. 

Los Angeles finds itself in the same situation as many contenders this year with a talent-laden roster that hasn't played too many games together. It's been rare for the Clippers to have George, Leonard, Patrick Beverley, Nicolas Batum and Reggie Jackson all on the floor since April. George is still trying to figure out how to fit his style around that of his teammates. 

Fortunately for L.A., it seems like George's play is one of the few areas where things didn't go right on Tuesday.

LA Clippers @LAClippers

Grown Mann jam. https://t.co/O6PtFhJlHs

LA Clippers @LAClippers

Behind-the-back and between two defenders. 🤯 https://t.co/w4sZmdP39z

The Clippers assisted on 25 of their 39 made field goals, went a perfect 26-for-26 at the free-throw line and won the rebound battle 49-35. 

Los Angeles has three games left to help George heat up. It seems clear that will be one of the club's top priorities before the postseason tips off. 

Toronto Showcases Young Talent

Without Kyle Lowry, Fred VanVleet, OG Anunoby, Pascal Siakam and Aron Baynes available on Tuesday, the Raptors essentially played with their starting lineup on the sidelines. It was an opportunity for some of the club's younger players to show what they can do against top talent and prove they can hold down major minutes. 

There were a few notable standouts.

Toronto Raptors @Raptors

Yuta at the buzzer https://t.co/HUttK6ysU2

Rookie Freddie Gillespie impressed in 25 minutes off the bench, going 4-for-6 from the floor with seven boards and three massive blocks at the rim.

The Baylor product patrolled the paint and acted as an eraser on the back end of the defense. His block on Ivica Zubac, in particular, was an absolute beauty. With the Clippers' big man running full speed down the lane, Gillespie held his ground, went straight up and palmed the ball out of the way with ease. 

Toronto Raptors @Raptors

Didn't learn the last time?? @freddieg_33 | #WeTheNorth https://t.co/4OTdgkjVnM

Fourth-year pro Chris Boucher made similar noteworthy plays, though the forward seemed to force his shot from outside with Siakam unavailable. Boucher went 2-for-9 from three-point range, but 3-for-6 in the paint. 

An influx of young talent like Boucher and Gillespie should help the Raptors get out of the NBA's dreaded middle ground sooner than later at this rate, though a healthy Siakam, Lowry and VanVleet would no doubt speed that process up. 

Toronto Raptors @Raptors

Excuse me, comin' thru https://t.co/TP3bLkz85d

What's Next?

The Clippers' regular-season-ending road trip continues with a stop in Charlotte on Thursday at 7 p.m. ET before continuing on to Houston and Oklahoma City. Toronto heads out on the road for a quick two-game trip next. The Raps will play at the Chicago Bulls on Thursday at 8 p.m. ET followed by a contest against the Dallas Mavericks on Friday at 9 p.m. ET.


This article will be updated to provide more information on this story as it becomes available.

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