Originally posted on FOX Sports  |  Last updated 1/21/12
With a Los Angeles matchup looming, the Clippers are hoping to get healthier soon. They might be able to manage without Chris Paul and Caron Butler, though, if they aren't available for a visit from the struggling Toronto Raptors on Sunday. Paul has missed the past four contests with a strained left hamstring and Caron Butler was a late scratch from Friday's game against Minnesota due to a hyperextended right knee. Mo Williams was ejected with 6:21 remaining after scoring a game-high 25 points off the bench, and Los Angeles (8-5) faltered down the stretch in a 101-98 defeat. The Timberwolves scored 11 of the game's final 13 points, including Kevin Love's 3-pointer at the buzzer, to end the Clippers' seven-game home win streak. "They just made plays at the end," forward Blake Griffin said following his eighth consecutive double-double. "We've got to close out games and make sure that once we get up that we play to win." Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro said that Paul's availability Sunday will likely be a game-time decision. Butler had an MRI on Thursday that showed no structural damage. The forward missed the final 50 regular-season games and the playoffs for Dallas in 2010-11 after undergoing surgery on that same knee, but Del Negro said this injury wasn't related. Los Angeles could use both players during a matchup with the Lakers on Wednesday, but the Clippers might be all right if they have to miss the game against the Raptors (4-12). Toronto's current seven-game skid is its longest since a 13-game losing streak Jan. 12-Feb. 2 last season, and it has also dropped 29 of 32 on the road dating back to Jan. 7, 2011. Among those defeats was a 94-90 loss to the Clippers on March 26, and the Raptors are the NBA's lowest-scoring team on the road this season with 81.9 points per game. Like Los Angeles, Toronto is dealing with injuries, most notably leading scorer Andrea Bargnani's strained left calf. Bargnani had a game-high 27 points during a 98-93 home win over the Clippers on Feb. 13 but missed last season's visit to Staples Center because of an ankle injury. The 7-foot Italian has missed the past five games but could return Sunday. Guard Jerryd Bayless sat out his 13th consecutive contest during a 94-84 defeat to visiting Portland on Friday. The Raptors got off to another slow start, scoring 14 points in the first quarter for the third time in four games. "Somehow, some way, we've got to get four good quarters together and get healthy," coach Dwane Casey said. "Health is huge in this league. It's not a forgiving league if you're not healthy." Griffin's numbers against Toronto have been plenty robust. He topped 20 points and had at least 15 rebounds in each of last season's matchups. Williams will try to score at least 25 points for his third straight game overall, but he averaged 10.0 during his two against the Raptors last season - one while with Cleveland. Paul, meanwhile, has averaged just 7.7 points on 22.6 percent shooting in his past three meetings with Toronto. Raptors swingman and Los Angeles native DeMar DeRozan had 22 points Friday, but scored just seven on 3-of-15 shooting during his last visit to his hometown in the March defeat.
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