Rappers dominate Clippers without Kawhi Leonard



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LOS ANGELES – Kawhi Leonard missed Tuesday's game against the Los Angeles Clippers because of a right hip injury, announced before the Raptors took the floor at the Staples Center against the "other" LA team.

Maybe he just wanted to take it all on a busy night with all sorts of plots and sub-plots. I can not blame him. That meant that for the second consecutive time, when the Raptors visited Leonard's hometown and the home of the two teams with which he is so often connected earlier this summer, Leonard did not play. It was an ankle injury when the Raptors were here to face the Lakers. According to Raptors coach Nick Nurse, Leonard injured his hip in the last stages of the Raptors' loss to Milwaukee Bucks on Sunday. Your availability on Wednesday night against the Golden State must be determined.

But for anyone watching – Leonard included – there was a lot to see, as the man on his current team, maybe his most ardent suitor (the Clippers had a Girl Scout presence in the Raptors' games all season) without even taking the floor.

The game

The Raptors (22-7) made their challenging four-game trip on the West Coast for a fantastic start with a 123-99 win. They were perhaps helped by the Clippers playing on the second night of a back-to-back and playing in overtime to boot. The Raptors made a point of taking advantage of the 36-23 advantage in the first quarter and beyond a few problems in the second quarter when the Clippers got a 17-8 run against Raptors. Toronto never faltered.

"Before the game, we talked about our offense doing the work for us and really did," said the nurse. "I mean our defense was really good too, it was just a bunch of guys hitting them from everywhere – in, out, transition, we performed our sets very well. Everyone was really involved.

The Raptors pushed the lead back to 13 in the middle, ending the second quarter in a 20-12 run. They split the game in the third opening, a lead of 29 points and managed to return home.

The Raptors fired 52% of the ground and 48% of the fund, while accumulating 34 assists in 50 field goals, led by 14 assists in Fred VanVleet's career. Serge Ibaka made 25 points while OG Anunoby left the bank and contributed 12 points to the bench, as six Raptors reached double digits. They forced the Clippers into 17 turnovers, which they converted into 24 points, compared with only nine and five points, respectively, rising to the other side.

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The Beginner

It's no secret that Canada has injected a lot of talent into the NBA in recent years, with more results. Some failed to live up to expectations – Anthony Bennett, of course, and Andrew Wiggins' plan, consecutive No. 1 choices come to mind. Others challenged them – Dwight Powell earned a solid acting career after being singled out in the second round as an example, or the solid professional careers created by Tristan Thompson, Kelly Olynyk and Cory Joseph. But Shai Gilgeous-Alexander could represent a new category of Canadian pick pick: theft. Not that the 6-foot-6 Clippers has not entered the league without his 11th place finish at the University of Kentucky talent factory, he's already proving that his bright side can be so much more than any one properly imagined. He started 18 straight games for the Clippers (18-9) who are now 12-6 with him in that role and he does not seem out of place for more than a minute.

One team that was disappointed that the Gilgeous-Alexander star continued to climb in Kentucky was the Raptors, who expected him to fall out of the lottery where he planned to try to get in the first round to catch him. Once he was established in the lottery, there was even a discussion about DeMar DeRozan packaging in order to get a choice high enough to take it. They could not do that, obviously.

The Clippers are thrilled to have him, just as Gilgeous-Alexander made his NBA debut against his youth team in Toronto and then Hamilton before heading to the US for high school.

"It's the team I grew up watching, the team that I fell in love with the game watching, the Vince Carter era," he said before the game. "It's going to be a bubbling moment, I guess you could say. It'll be fun."

Its development curve was fun.

"He keeps growing, I do not know if he had any setbacks, to be honest," said Clippers coach Doc Rivers, a former NBA point guard before starting training. "He learns a lot and learns quickly. He studies the game a lot and wants to improve. That is why he continues to make progress. He has been a joy to train. "

A joy to watch too.

It brings to the ground a rare combination of true guarded sense – "compound" is the adjective that is applied repeatedly – in a 6-foot-6 pack with a seven-foot wingspan that offers the promise of two – or defensive versatility three positions.

He is never in a hurry and is comfortable pulling into an intermediate jumper and clever enough to cut backdoor to layups. Your three-point track is developing well. Even with just over a quarter of his debut year, he reads the floor well enough to do away with the picks and rounds the veterans did – as he did when he used his length to steal a Kyle Lowry pass for Ibaka in the first quarter .

With the Clippers, he is lucky enough to be surrounded by an experienced group of veterans on the court, while he gets to the ground for 27.5 minutes a night, averaging 10.5 points and three assists at 47%.

"I feel like I'm in the perfect position to grow and learn from my own experiences," said Gilgeous-Alexander, who finished with seven points, two rebounds, two assists and three blocks. "I have a lot of good veterinarians to help me every day, teach me things every day, I'm thankful for that."

He's just getting started, which is an exciting part.

"The guy's going to be really, really good," Rivers said. "I do not know what that ladder is or when I knew it would start earlier than later, but the biggest surprise is how good it is and how efficient it is at the end of the game. and makes great plays at both ends and is not afraid to make plays.

The veteran

Gilgeous-Alexander protected Lowry for long periods and it would not have been so difficult to imagine why "Why bother?" – this is how a shooting funk went deep before coming west. In four games since winning a win against Cleveland with back pain, Lowry was shooting 14.3 percent from the floor and averaging just 3.8 points per game and had only made one shot within the three-point line – and only a handful off. He claimed not to worry.

"We'll figure it out. For me, honestly, it's such a small sample size that I'm not worried about that," he said before the game. "I'm filming all three and I have to be better to get in the paint, in the mid-range and play my game and get out of the box they want me in. I have to go back to being myself."

But what box?

Lowry was implying that being a distributor on a Kahwi-centered Leonard offense was part of the problem? Interesting. With Leonard off schedule, there were no such concerns, and Lowry seemed to insist on asserting himself early. His first field-goal attempt was a layup, giving the Raptors their first score. A moment later, he made a robbery and scored another layup. He even had a three-pointer drop when he took a VanVleet pass – starting in Leonard's place – and kicked with confidence, giving the Raptors a 22-17 lead with just five minutes to go. Lowry continued to make plays for others – his fast pace through the key to find a Scotsman Delon Wright by three in the third part of the Raptors was vintage, as were the three quick triples in the last three minutes of the third. who put the Clippers. He finished with 21 points and seven assists while taking 4 out of 8 in depth.

"Just going there and playing," he said of his fall breaker. "My guys did a good job pushing the ball, the pace was great, we got some open looks and my team mates did a good job looking for me. They always support me, but it's time for me to introduce myself and play. "

The Coach

Nurse made a detour on her way from Toronto to Staples Center Monday. His mother, Marcella, 94, passed away in Carroll, Iowa, and the Raptors coach stopped by to see his family on Monday before joining the team on Tuesday night, just in time to meet the media. Nurse is the youngest of nine years of a sports-mad family. Your parents building a pole vault pit in your backyard is just one example. Nurse played basketball, soccer and baseball at school and he was not the only one in his family bitten by the insect. So maybe it was no surprise that he struggled to get back in line without missing a game. "I'm here because my mother would not want it any other way," he said. "Then I'll train the game and train the next tomorrow and then come back and take care of the business."

I asked him what impact his mother had on him as an athlete and coach. He smiled:

"It had a big impact because there were nine of us and I was the last," he said. "Many games. I said that "94 years, nine children and about 80,000 watched games were his final stats". So surely she was shocking. "

She missed a good Tuesday night. Your baby's team did very well.

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