Reserve boosters: Clippers aim to extend win streak vs. Raptors

Updated: December 9, 2012

Los Angeles Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro had nothing but praise for his bench following his club’s fifth straight win on Saturday.

Toronto Raptors coach Dwane Casey didn’t have many nice things to say about his club following its most recent loss.

The Clippers and their red-hot reserves look to keep the Raptors winless on their current road trip in a Sunday afternoon contest.

Los Angeles will play its second straight early game after also hosting the Phoenix Suns on Saturday. Perhaps the early start impacted the starters as it was the bench that came alive late in a 117-99 win.

Reserve Jamal Crawford scored 13 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter and the bench was responsible for all 32 points in the frame.

“Thank the bench because the starters are struggling,” Del Negro said. “They got us off to a bad start again. I was disappointed with that. I didn’t think our energy defensively was very good. … Our bench won the game for us.”

Blake Griffin wasn’t too bad either with 24 points, eight rebounds and a career-high four steals, while Chris Paul had a double-double with 16 points and 11 assists.

“Our bench is very unique, when they come in its like another group of starters,” said Paul. “We have to just come out and work on being better.”

Guard Chauncey Billups missed his second game in a row due to a left ankle injury for the Clippers, who won a season-high six games in a row from Nov. 7-19.

Meanwhile, the Raptors have yet to win consecutive games this season and have lost the first three of a five-game road trip to begin the month. Toronto lost for the ninth time in its last 10 overall with Friday’s 131-99 setback at the Utah Jazz.

The Raptors allowed the Jazz to score 38 points in the second quarter and also saw their opponent post a 36-point fourth frame as Utah led by as many as 34 in the game. That led to Casey calling out his club afterwards.

“We gave in to the altitude, or whatever,” said Casey. “I thought we splintered apart, didn’t stay together. Tonight’s the first time I’ve seen us give in. That’s what we talked about in the team meeting. Hopefully that’s the start of togetherness, but talk is cheap.

“We have to get back to the fundamentals of basketball, whether it is guarding the ball, rebounding, transition. Everything was exposed tonight.”

Andrea Bargnani had 20 points and eight rebounds for the Raptors, while DeMar DeRozan scored 17 points and pulled down five rebounds.

Toronto has lost nine in a row on the road and is just 1-12 as the guest this season. The Raptors wrap the road trip on Monday against Portland.

First, they’ll try to record their ninth win in their past 12 games versus the Clippers and snap a two-game slide in Los Angeles.