Terrence Ross seemed a bit taken aback by all the fuss.
Although he’d just matched a Toronto Raptors record with 51 points, Ross wasn’t sure why someone threw him a game ball. With the media crowding around his locker, he noted that New York’s Carmelo Anthony poured in 62 on Friday night and Oklahoma’s Kevin Durant had 54 earlier this month.
It was left to teammate Greivis Vasquez to offer some perspective, noting that while those veterans may have scored more, Ross had eclipsed the half-century mark in just his second year in the NBA.
“You don’t think about it once you try winning the game and you do whatever,” Ross said after the Raptors fell 126-118 to the Los Angeles Clippers in a highly entertaining game at Air Canada Centre. “You don’t really realize what you’re doing until it’s all over.
“It would have been better if we had the win but I guess that’s just how it goes.”
Ross nearly doubled his previous career-high of 26 against Portland last season.
“My teammates just had confidence in me,” Ross said. “Every time I was open they passed it to me, so I just shot it and that’s what they want me to. I just kept shooting.”
Ross was 16-for-29 on the night in field goal attempts, including 10 of 17 from three-point range to match the Raptors’ single-game point record set by Vince Carter against the Phoenix Suns in 2000.
Ross, who got a standing ovation from those remaining amongst the sellout crowd of 19,800 when he went to free-throw line in the final minute, had a chance to break the record but missed a last foul shot.
Ross almost single-handedly kept the Raptors in the game after DeMar DeRozan went down with a sprained foot and missed the second half.
“Terrance picked it up...and put on a heck of a display,” Toronto head coach Dwane Casey said. “Not only did he get 51 points but he had nine rebounds, which was huge.”
But it wasn’t enough against the Clippers (31-15), one of the NBA’s elite teams.
Jamal Crawford with 37 points and Blake Griffin with 30 led the Clippers, 8-2 in their past 10 games.
The loss snapped the Raptors (22-21) two-game winning streak.
The game see-sawed back and forth until the fourth quarter, each trip up the court adding to the drama.
But after Jonas Valanciunas converted an alley oop from Kyle Lowry to give the Raptors a 107-106 lead with 6:34 to go, the Clippers showed why they are among the league’s best.
L.A. had an 11-1 run over the next 2:42 and never looked back.
“It was an incredible offensive display on their part,” Casey said of the Clippers, who shot 55 per cent on field goals compared to 49 per cent for Toronto. “It’s not like our guys weren’t giving an effort on the defensive end. They made some tough shots.”
DeRozan, who rolled on his left ankle after being undercut on a jump shot by vilified former Raptor Hedo Turkoglu in the second quarter, said “it’s a little painful right now” after the game.
Casey said X-rays on DeRozan’s foot proved negative and he’ll re-evaluated on Sunday.
Toronto led 37-36 at the half. L.A. was up 71-65 at the half. It was 93-93 after three quarters.
Lowry, who had 11 points and 12 assists, said Ross’ performance “left me speechless.
“I’ve seen him shoot the ball before and tonight with DeMar going down he stepped it up and that’s what a team does,” Lowry said.
“Unfortunately, we didn’t win tonight.”