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Basketball / Sports

Clippers too much for Raptors; trade talk heating up?

LOS ANGELES -- Did you miss curfew Friday night because you were at the Clippers game? You can blame Toronto coach Dwane Casey.

Casey's strategy to intentionally foul DeAndre Jordan turned the third quarter into an almost unwatchable marathon in the Clippers' 118-105 win over the Raptors at Staples Center.

"It looks bad," Rivers said of the quarter. "There's no doubt about that."

After the game, Clippers forward Matt Barnes abdicated a rule change.

"I don't think anyone want to see that ever," he said.

Casey and the Raptors sent Jordan to the line to shoot 16 free throws in a three-minute span, slamming the brakes on what had been a high-powered offensive performance by the Clippers.

The strategy didn't pay major dividends immediately, as the Clippers' 21-point lead was only trimmed to 18 during the span, but all the fouls seemed to quiet the Staples Center crowd and disjoint the rhythm the Clippers offense had built.

Following the barrage of free throws, the Clippers missed six straight shots as the Raptors went on a 10-1 run to end the quarter.

The 12 minutes of game action in the third quarter took 41 minutes of real time.

In the two quarters before and the one following the third, the Clippers' offense sailed past Toronto's defense, as Blake Griffin and Jamal Crawford continued to carry the load offensively without Chris Paul available.

Griffin became the first Clipper since 1979 to score 35 or more points in three games after dropping in 36 despite being limited to 28 minutes by foul trouble.

While Crawford struggled from the field, hitting only 4 of 13, he nailed all 12 of his free throws to go with six rebounds and six assists.

All five starters finished in double figures for the Clippers, who have won all eight times this year when all five starters have score 10 or more points.

DeMar DeRozan led Toronto with 36. Terrance Ross, who scored 51 points against the Clippers on Jan. 25, managed only nine.

CLIPPERS IN DEMAND?

Doc Rivers' phone is starting to ring a lot more often.

The Clippers coach and senior vice president of basketball operations has been fielding more phone calls because it's officially trade season.

The trade deadline is Feb. 20. Players names are bound to come up in conversations with executives around the league, but Rivers said he won't change his approach inside the locker room.

"My job is to coach the team and to make the team better if I can," he said before Friday's game.

But in some cases, Rivers will have to deal with a player who reacts poorly to hearing his name in trade rumors. Lucky for the Clippers, Jared Dudley isn't one of those guys.

ESPN's Marc Stein tweeted this week that the Clippers are "itchy to make a deal and Jared Dudley, with (playing time) harder to come by and logjam at wing spots, is unexpectedly in play."

Dudley, one of the Clippers' most active users of social media, saw the tweet.

"To be honest with you, it doesn't bother me at all. As a fan and watching basketball, 99 percent of the time, it doesn't happen. It's the ones you don't hear about," he said Friday morning. "The two times I've been traded, I didn't even hear about it. Every other time I've been in (rumors), it's never happened.

"You look at as a compliment. It means someone wants you. One man's trash is another man's treasure. It goes both ways, to have value. At one point in time, I didn't know if I had value."

Friday, Dudley was productive, helping the second unit maintain a lead in the second quarter by being active on both ends on the court.

Dudley's name has surfaced for a couple of reasons, beginning with his on-court struggles.

Dudley's shooting a career-low 44.5 percent from the field and averaging only 7.8 points a game. His 3-point percentage (35.7) is the lowest it's been since his rookie season.

Second, because the Clippers are over the salary cap, they cannot take back more salary in a trade than they send out, and Dudley's three-year deal worth $4.25 million annually is useful in bringing back a significant contract.

Dudley's not a player who measures himself by his numbers, though he knows he has to make more shots.

"I know if I score 10 points, I know what our record is. I know the impact I have hitting 3's because it makes my man stay closer," Dudley said. "It puts more of a burden on the scouting report when I play well."

The Clippers are 15-1 when Dudley scores 10 or more points.

Dudley, who has been dealing with tendinitis in his right knee all season, said he's hoping to get back on track once Chris Paul returns, which might be Sunday, something he and Rivers have discussed.

"He's an ex-player. He knows. He knows that CP being out is tough on role guys. He's told me about that," Dudley said. "His whole thing is never offensively. It's me doing the little things and, defensively, keep playing well. The last 10 games, I feel like I've played the best defense I have all year."

Injury update

J.J. Redick (right hip) and Hedo Turkoglu (right knee) weren't available. Paul (right shoulder) also didn't play, but all three could be on the court today when the Clippers will hold a light practice. Rivers said all three are day-to-day.

(c)2014 The Orange County Register (Santa Ana, Calif.)

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