The Toronto Raptors fought all the way to the final buzzer in their first contest against Kawhi Leonard but ultimately came up short.
The Raptors did a great job of slowing down Leonard but couldn't overcome big performances from the Clippers' bench duo of Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell.
On the back-end of a back-to-back, fatigue set in for Toronto down the stretch as they couldn't get over the hump and make the shots they needed to remain undefeated on this Western Conference road trip.
For more on their battle against the Clippers, we have you covered with takeaways below.
You know how it goes with Kawhi Leonard - there was no emotional pregame stuff, no hugs all-around before tip-off, just straight down to business.
Unfortunately for the former Raptor, the game didn't get off to the start he would have hoped for. Leonard did not convert his first field goal until the 6:25 mark in the third quarter. He entered halftime with just four points shooting 0-for-5 from the field. He did, however, have five assists to make his presence felt on that end of the floor.
The Raptors did a fantastic job making things difficult for the All-Star forward, trapping and double-teaming Leonard nearly every time he touched the ball. He hardly saw a clean look at the basket the entire night and his scoring output reflected that.
Leonard finished the game with just 12 points, but he did notch a near-triple-double as he grabbed 11 rebounds and dished out nine assists. He struggled against the Raptors' constant pressure, turning the ball over a career-high nine times, but his nine assists showed he still found ways to get his teammates involved on offence even though he didn't have it going.
Doc Rivers on the Raptors defense on Kawhi Leonard: "They double teamed him no matter where he was at on the floor." Doc still pleased with Leonard taking a playmaking role & defending to offset for bad shooting numbers.- Mark Medina (@MarkG_Medina) November 12, 2019
Leonard shot 2-for-11 (18.2%) from the field and 0-for-4 from beyond the arc - his worst offensive performance so far this season. He was a solid 8-for-9 from the free throw line, but that was the only time he got much of anything to drop.
It was still a solid all-around game for Leonard despite the offensive woes, as he had three steals on the defensive end and finished as a plus-12, the second-best plus-minus on his team.
It may not have been the ideal first game against his former team, but Leonard and the Clippers came away with the win and that's all that matters.
Anunoby's injury, Hollis-Jefferson steps up
The Raptors were already without starting point guard Kyle Lowry (thumb) and key reserve Serge Ibaka (ankle), who both suffered injuries in the first game of this Western Conference road trip. Lowry's injury will be re-evaluated in two weeks while Ibaka is listed as out "indefinitely," so the team was already short-handed coming into this matchup with the Clippers.
Less than two minutes into the contest, Toronto's starting forward OG Anunoby was forced to exit with an eye injury. Anunoby was accidentally poked in the eye by former teammate Kawhi Leonard and never returned, leaving Toronto to play without another key rotation player.
This put the Raptors behind the 8-ball early, as Anunoby has been the guy to take on opposing team's best forwards this season - in this case, Leonard. Anunoby is more than just the Raptors premier forward defender. He was averaging 13.0 points, 6.2 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game heading into this contest, too.
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson subbed into the game for the injured forward and took on the task of trying to stop Leonard, although he received plenty of help from his teammates in the form of double-teams and traps.
Led by Hollis-Jefferson - who played 29 minutes in this game, the most he's played with the Raptors - Toronto's defensive scheme on Leonard worked, forcing the rest of the players on the Clippers to beat them. His size, length and athleticism helped disrupt Leonard, and he also provided some offence. Hollis-Jefferson filled the box score with nine points, nine rebounds, three steals, an assist and a block.
RHJ defence- Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) November 12, 2019
RHJ offence pic.twitter.com/UODl1pXasO
Hollis-Jefferson finished the game shooting 4-for-11 from the field, but he's not known for his offensive prowess. Head coach Nick Nurse needed someone to come in and take over the role as a defensive stopper, and RHJ answered that call.
For a team that's dealing with three injuries to key rotation players, it was a promising showing for a player who may have earned himself more minutes with a solid performance on the defensive end.
Siakam's quiet game
This was a marquee game for Pascal Siakam before it even tipped off.
He earned last season's Most Improved Player of the Year award, making strides in every area of his game as the Raptors' second go-to guy behind Kawhi Leonard. With Leonard signing with the Clippers, that made it clear that it was Siakam's time to shine in Toronto, and he's succeeded with ease so far this season.
This was Siakam's first chance to go head-to-head with Leonard, proving he's ready to be the successor to his throne with the Raptors. While it was a tall task after going for 24 points and 11 rebounds in 43 minutes of playing time in a win over the Los Angeles Lakers the night before on the front end of a back-to-back, the 24-year-old forward still put together a solid performance, even if he wasn't scoring at the rate he typically does.
Siakam finished with a modest 16 points, tying his lowest scoring output of the season. He couldn't get much to fall as he went 6-for-17 from the field, 1-for-6 from 3-point range and 3-for-6 from the free throw line. But he still grabbed 10 rebounds and dished out six assists - one shy of tying his career-high.
It wasn't Siakam's most impressive game but he played 44 hard minutes, trying to get his team through this gauntlet of a back-to-back despite running low on energy.
While he would have preferred to put up bigger numbers and earn the win over his former star teammate, you can't knock the effort of a player who has proven that he has what it takes to be the Raptors' new No. 1 option.
Clippers bench duo strikes again
Kawhi Leonard didn't have his best outing and it didn't affect the outcome because the Clippers dynamic duo off the bench did what they do best - step up when they're needed most.
Back-to-back Sixth Man of the Year Lou Williams led the way for LA, scoring a game-high 21 points. His running mate Montrezl Harrell was right there with him, adding 14 points and 11 rebounds off the bench.
👏 @TeamLou23 (21 PTS) & @MONSTATREZZ (14 PTS, 11 REB) provide a spark off the bench, guiding the @LAClippers to victory at Staples Center! #ClipperNation pic.twitter.com/m063swthgj- NBA (@NBA) November 12, 2019
This prolific scoring tandem gives every NBA team fits and this contest against the Raptors was no different, as the supersubs' combined 35 points tied Toronto's entire bench scoring output.
Add to it that JaMychal Green had a huge double-double of 10 points and 12 rebounds and Moe Harkless provided a team-best +/- of plus-14 in 33 minutes and you have the exact reason why this Clippers second unit is considered the best in the NBA.
The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA or its clubs.