The Los Angeles Clippers will take aim at their fourth consecutive victory Friday night when they open a seven-game road trip against the Toronto Raptors.
The Clippers have won 11 of their past 13 games and are 20-4 since the start of December to signal they will be a formidable opponent for the revamped Raptors, who have lost three straight and eight of their past 10.
The Clippers defeated the Raptors 126-120 at Los Angeles on Jan. 10.
The Clippers are coming off a 127-116 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday. The Raptors lost at home 108-100 to the short-handed Memphis Grizzlies on Monday.
Kawhi Leonard, who led the Raptors to their only NBA championship in 2019, had 25 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists for the Clippers on Tuesday for his second career triple-double and first since January 2020. James Harden added 23 points.
The Clippers felt that they could have played better against the Lakers, who were without LeBron James.
The Clippers feel that a change in mindset, along with Harden’s familiarity with his new teammates since his November arrival, has led to their surge.
Said Lue: “What (Harden has) brought to us is just keeping everybody happy. Being able to run pick and roll and get 10, 11 assists, get guys easy shots and easy baskets and that’s what’s allowed us to be really good.”
The Raptors are undergoing changes after trading OG Anunoby and Pascal Siakam. Toronto’s Jakob Poeltl (ankle) is nearing a return to action but is not expected to play on Friday.
Poeltl said that he misses Siakam as a teammate.
The Raptors will try to rebound from a poor effort against the Grizzlies, giving up 30 points in the first quarter and 32 in the third.
Toronto’s Scottie Barnes had 22 points, 12 rebounds, eight assists and six blocked shots.