The Toronto Raptors raced out to a hefty lead last night against the Memphis Grizzlies, and were never threatened on their way to an emphatic 108-72 victory. It was empty-the-bench night for Raps’ coach Dwane Casey, as he was afforded the luxury of allowing both his regulars and his no-name hopefuls to play significant minutes. Only Steve Novak, who appears to be nursing a hand injury, didn’t take off his sweats. Speaking of injuries, the night was not completely pain-free for the Raps. Kyle Lowry departed after hurting his left hand pinky, and Jonas Valanciunas received an nasty elbow smash from Zach Randolph. JV rolled around, then got up on his own speed and did not reappear after dashing to the dressing room for some stitches. Randolph’s night was done as well; the foul (a Flagrant-1) was his sixth.
The Raps were solid all around, but the Grizz played like extras from the set of The Walking Dead. Here’s a quick stat showing how outclassed Memphis was – the Raps’ starting five of Kyle, Jonas, Amir Johnson, Rudy Gay and DeMar DeRozan averaged a plus-26, compared to the Memphis’ starters minus-23. Rudy was excellent on both sides of the ball, contributed 2 superb blocked shots to his 15 points and 5 boards. He made both 3-balls he tried, and Amir and Quincy Acy drained one each, much to the delight of the home fans. Shooting from distance was not a problem for the Raps, as they ended the night 10 of 19, led by Austin Daye, who was 3 of 3 on the way to his best night as a Rap. Toronto got to the foul line 26 times and made Memphis pay, hitting 24. DeMar continued his excellent pre-season with a number of well-judged drives to the hoop, and finished with a team-high 21 points. Kyle had only one bucket, but 10 assists against 2 turnovers is the kind of ratio we’re looking for.
The backup point guard spot remains wide-open, as none of the candidates had a good night. Dwight Buycks can score the ball, at least, but a shoot-first PG would not be to my liking. D.J. Augustin’s only shot was an air ball. Carlos Morais got a chance to show his stuff and hit a 3, but I have to believe he’s earmarked for the D-League. Julyan Stone’s presence on the team is a mystery to me.
The Raps travel to Milwaukee on Friday for their final pre-season game. Bring on the regular season, folks, I think we’re ready.
Brian Boake is Senior Editor 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.
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