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Raptors 98, Clippers 73

The SportsXchange

TORONTO -- Rudy Gay scored 20 points after coming off the bench in his first game for the Toronto Raptors to lead them to a 98-73 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers before a crowd of 19,800 at Air Canada Centre.

Forward Amir Johnson scored 19 points and grabbed a season-best 16 rebounds as the Raptors ended a three-game losing streak. Johnson's rebounds equaled a career best.

DeMar DeRozan also scored 19 points and John Lucas added 17 from off the bench. Aaron Gray had a season-best 12 rebounds to go with seven points.

Blake Griffin scored 17 points and had nine rebounds for the Clippers who were short-handed because of injury and suspension. Jamal Crawford scored 14 after coming off the bench, Caron Butler had 12 and Eric Bledsoe 10 for the Clippers, who had won their previous two games.

The Clippers, the Pacific Division leaders, trailed the Raptors by 27 points entering the fourth quarter. They scored the first four points of the fourth but Toronto answered with a 3-pointer from Lucas. When Lucas hit a 3-pointer with 4:46 to play in the game, the Raptors led 87-59 and a 3-pointer by Gay made the lead 31 points.

The Raptors (17-30) led by 16 entering the second half and bumped that to 18 when Johnson scored the first two points of the third quarter on a layup. Landry Fields' running bank shot had the Raptors ahead 53-32 with 8:03 left in the third. The lead was 64-41 after Johnson converted a pair of free throws with 3:27 left as the Clippers (34-14) continued their struggles as they were shooting 31 per cent from the field. The Raptors' lead reached 26 on a 3-pointer by Lucas.

The Clippers were playing so poorly that they had a shot-clock violation with five seconds left in the third quarter, which ended with the Raptors leading 72-45 after a 3-pointer by Gay at the buzzer.

Gay, who was obtained in a trade Wednesday with the Memphis Grizzlies, entered the game to cheers with 5:10 to play in the first quarter. After making one of two free throws, he made his first field goal as a Raptor on a spectacular alley-oop dunk on a pass from DeRozan with 2:56 to play in the quarter to give the Raptors a 16-10 lead. He scored seven points in the quarter which ended with the Raptors leading 22-17.

The Raptors scored the final eight points of the first half to lead 46-30 as the Clippers shot 29 percent from the field.

Notes: Gay did not start Friday's game to give him time to adjust to the Raptors' system. He was acquired along with center Hamed Haddadi for point guard Jose Calderon, who was moved to the Detroit Pistons with forward Ed Davis. "When I heard about the trade it was a whirlwind," Gay said before Friday's game. "I've been in Memphis for six and a half years. The first thing I did was call (Toronto guard) Kyle Lowry, who is like a brother to me. And he said, 'If you come here we can do some big things.' From then on I was comfortable with the whole situation. I just want to come here and try to be the hard working veteran I think this team needs." ... Center Jonas Valanciunas returned to the Raptors' lineup Friday after missing 18 games with a fractured metacarpal in his right ring finger. ... The Clippers were again without point guard Chris Paul (bruised right kneecap). Also missing were guard Chauncey Billups (left foot tendinitis), forward Trey Thompkins (left knee bone bruise) and forward Matt Barnes, who was suspended for one game for striking the Minnesota Timberwolves' Greg Stiemsma in the neck in the second quarter on Wednesday. ... The Raptors are home to the Miami Heat on Sunday. ... The Clippers visit the Boston Celtics on Sunday.
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