At least when Jeff Ayres was playing, Clippers had the upper hand

The game had long been lost when Jeff Ayres checked in with about five minutes left.

The power forward had an assist, made a couple of free throws and nearly came up with a rare highlight in his Clippers debut when he zipped a pass to Austin Rivers under the basket for an open layup.

Only Rivers missed it, perfectly encapsulating the performance of the reserves during the Clippers' 112-94 loss to the Toronto Raptors on Sunday at the Air Canada Centre.

The Clippers' reserves were outscored, 51-29, by their Raptors counterparts. Ayres wasn't really a culprit, getting two points, one assist and one rebound in his first game as a Clipper after signing a 10-day contract.

The Clippers outscored Toronto by three points while Ayres was on the court, making him something of a rarity among the bench players.

"They were just awful," Clippers Coach Doc Rivers said. "It's rare when you lose by 18 points and your starters all have a plus. That doesn't happen very often."

Rivers said the Clippers had a specific reason for acquiring Ayres, a five-year veteran who won a championship with the San Antonio Spurs in 2014.

"Well, we just really wanted to get the San Antonio scouting reports," Rivers joked. "No, he's a veteran. He's been on good teams, on winning teams. He's one of those guys that are willing to mix it up."

He's back

Josh Smith logged season highs in minutes (23) and points (16) on Sunday in his second game back with the Houston Rockets, showing that he is probably a better fit with the team that reacquired him in a trade with the Clippers on Friday.

Smith had an erratic season debut with the Rockets two days earlier, scoring two points on one-for-10 shooting to go with six assists, five rebounds, three blocks and two steals.

But he seems to have recaptured the bounce and swagger that were missing when he posted career lows nearly across the board in his 32 games as a Clipper.

"I feel comfortable," Smith told reporters in Houston. "It might have been a little different story if this were my first time here, but being able to get the opportunity to play for the same team, around the same group of guys, is awesome.

"It's definitely a comfortable feeling being able to get back. Seeing the appreciation from the fans and my teammates definitely instills confidence that this is where I belong."

ben.bolch@latimes.com

Twitter: @latbbolch

Bolch reported from New York.

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times
A version of this article appeared in print on January 25, 2016, in the Sports section of the Los Angeles Times with the headline "Ayres arrives, bringing his NBA title experience - CLIPPERS REPORT" — Today's paperToday's paper | Subscribe
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