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Ford hits game-winning shot as Raptors top Clippers

Dec 21, 2006 - 7:39 AM LOS ANGELES (Ticker) -- T.J. Ford kept the Los Angeles Clippers mired in a terrible slump.

Ford nailed a foul-line jumper as time expired and Fred Jones added 23 points as the Toronto Raptors posted a dramatic 98-96 win over the struggling Clippers, who have lost five straight for the second time this season.

Rookie Andrea Bargnani, the No. 1 overall pick this year, collected 13 points and seven rebounds for the Raptors, who shot just 43 percent (32-of-75) from the field but were 8-of-17 from the arc to pick up their fourth win in their last five games.

"It's a great game for our ballclub," Ford said. "(We) were able to come out with a victory and it was a big confidence boost for us."

After Los Angeles' Cuttino Mobley fired an airball with 22 seconds remaining, Toronto held for the last shot.

"It was supposed to be a post-up for (Shaun) Livingston against Ford or post-up (for) Elton Brand," Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy said. "They denied the swing of the ball, and we just didn't get the ball in position, and we probably should have taken a timeout."

Ford then drove at defensive specialist Quinton Ross and dropped in a soft jumper to secure the exciting victory.

"It was strictly a clear out," Ford said. "We knew the pick-and-roll was just going to make me make another decision. They were going to switch no matter what. The ultimate thing was to just get a shot. There was no need for a pick and it worked out well."

"He got isolation at the top, and it was a tough shot, and he just made it," Ross said. "I just tried to make it a tough shot for him."

Ford shot just 4-of-12 from the floor but dished out nine assists. Jones was 6-of-10 and 8-of-11 from the line.

"The thing for us is to keep the games close," Ford said. "If we have a lead, protect the lead. We found our identity. Our identity is not to go up and down. When we have a fast break, we take it. If not, we run and execute our plays."

Trailing by eight points with 5:19 remaining, Los Angeles went on a 9-1 run, capped by Brand's follow shot with 1:41 left to tie the game, 94-94. However, they could not execute in the final minutes.

"This could be our most disappointing loss of the year," Dunleavy said. "I am really disappointed in our team and the way we are playing right now. Even in the second half, when we came back and played with more energy, and got better focus and have good things happen for us, we go through a stretch where we turn the ball over four times in a row and allow them to gain momentum."

Brand had 24 points and 10 rebounds and Corey Maggette added 20 points for Los Angeles, which shot 45 percent (38-of-84).

"This is definitely a tough one to take," Brand said. "When it rains, it pours. We played hard late, but it was a little too late."

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