The Raptors needed to find their game in a hurry, after turning in an embarrassing performance in Houston. The injury bug has struck Andrea Bargnani again, who’s hobbled with a sore ankle. Ed Davis got the start in AB’s place, as a reward for his steadily improving work on both ends of the court. The Dominic McGuire experiment appears to be over, as Linas Kleiza started at Small Forward.
The game began well for both teams, with no missed shots early. However, the speedy Grizzlies began to wear down the Raps, & soon had a healthy lead following an 8-0 run. Just as quickly, Toronto turned it around, and their run was 17-5. Contributions were gratefully accepted from everyone, including Kleiza, who attacked the bucket mercilessly against the bigger Memphisians & got some shots to fall for 11 points by halftime. Jose Calderon entered for Kyle Lowry, who had been enjoying a solid half, & Jose started potting. One special basket saw him drive to the rim while freezing the D with a fake-pass, then laying the ball in.
The Grizzlies, like strong teams are wont to do, found another gear after the break. Exploiting the Raps’ penchant for turnovers, the Grizz exploded for 33 points. The Raps were down by 1 after Q2, & by 20 after Q3. Deja vu all over again, as garbage time commenced in Q4. Noteworthy was a late appearance by Quincy Acy, who promptly drew a Flagrant Foul on Rudy Gay while inadvertently punching teammate Lowry in the right temple, leaving a nasty “mouse” – on the same play. Perhaps Acy’s choke hold was some sort of payback for Jerryd Bayless steamrolling Calderon in the act of shooting in Q2 (Calderon made all 3 FTs).
The Raps have now capsized in the second half of 2 straight games. Amid a blizzard of unflattering stats (how about 1 bucket in 27 minutes for Jonas V?), here’s the worst: Memphis posted 28 assists to Toronto’s 11. The Grizzlies broke the century mark in points, yet their high scorer was Speights with 18, while their imposing big men Zach Randolph & Marc Gasol had 17 apiece. This is a mature, unselfish team. Memphis’ criminally underrated Guard Mike Conley was +31.
Terrence Ross had an upside-down game; he was 0-6 from distance, despite excellent looks, yet drove the ball well & managed to salvage 8 points. His ballhandling on the perimeter remains a work in progress. The Kleiza-Davis starters experiment did not pan out. Both started well, but finished on the bench.
The Raps are banged up. Amir Johnson (twisted ankle) & Jonas (face plant following collision) join Andrea & Kyle on the “questionable for next game” list. At least they return home & enjoy a day off before taking on the Phoenix Suns. Whether everyone can emerge from sick bay at full strength is hard to know, but what is unarguable is this team’s need to post a victory.
Brian Boake is a staff writer for Raptors Rapture. “Like” Raptors Rapture on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @RaptorsRapture for all the latest news and updates about the best damn NBA team from Canada.