The Los Angeles Clippers ran out of gas at the end of their recent road trip, taking a step backward after some improved recent play.
The Toronto Raptors, now in the midst of a taxing road swing, are striving for any improvement whatsoever.
The Clippers hope a return home will get them back on track after their worst loss of the season, and they’ll look to rebound Monday at the expense of the Raptors, who’ve dropped five straight.
Los Angeles (8-19) had won four of five entering Saturday’s game, but was playing the finale of a four-game, five-night trip just 24 hours after a 117-109 double-overtime win at Indiana.
Mike Dunleavy’s club stumbled from the start, falling behind 37-15 after one quarter en route to a 119-85 loss at Milwaukee. Forward Zach Randolph was especially ineffective, shooting 2-of-11 from the field and scoring a season-low four points.
“It definitely took a toll on us,” Randolph said of the busy stretch. “We have the most minutes in the league as starters so it has been tough.”
Randolph had been outstanding during the Clippers’ recent hot streak, averaging 30.8 points and 12.2 rebounds over the previous five games. Rookie Eric Gordon also scored in double digits in each of those contests, averaging 16.2 points, but he had four on 1-of-6 shooting versus the Bucks.
Al Thornton led Los Angeles with 20 points Saturday.
“Everybody is tired,” Thornton said. “Everybody in the league has back-to-back games. We need to find it deep down and be able to compete better than that.”
A playoff team the last two seasons, it’s been surprising how poorly the Raptors (10-17) have competed lately. They’ve lost 10 of 12, a slump that started before the Dec. 3 firing of coach Sam Mitchell.
Toronto hasn’t been any better under interim coach Jay Triano, going 2-8 and losing its last five. The team hasn’t dropped six in a row since November 2006.
“No question it’s frustrating,” Raptors star forward Chris Bosh said after Saturday’s 107-97 defeat at San Antonio. “To try this hard and come up short, no question it hurts. We want it so badly, so it’s pretty tough. Of course you want to stay positive but results are results.”
Bosh had 17 points and 10 rebounds against the Spurs, but he’s been struggling to make shots during Toronto’s slide. Despite hitting more than 49 percent from the field in each of the last three seasons, Bosh has shot 33.3 percent (28-of-84) in his last five games.
Jermaine O’Neal matched a season high with 24 points and added 10 rebounds for the Raptors on Saturday despite playing with a bad left shoulder.
“I’m a little sore, but you just have to fight through it,” O’Neal said.
Things aren’t likely to get a whole lot easier for Toronto, which is in the midst of a six-game trip against Western Conference opponents. The Raptors have dropped 22 of 28 on the road dating to last season, including three playoff losses at Orlando.
They’re 0-5 on the road versus West opponents this season.
Toronto had won three straight against the Clippers - two coming at Staples Center - before Los Angeles won 102-98 at Air Canada Centre on Feb. 8.