The Toronto Raptors visited Memphis following a deeply disappointing 2OT defeat in Houston. Memphis is a squad with a number of offensive weapons at their disposal, such as Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph inside (lots of impressive big-to-big passing!) and Mike Conley driving the lane.
The Raps gave the Grizz lots of trouble in the first half by hitting a remarkable seven of nine 3-balls. The long balls set up a number of successful drives to the bucket, leading to 20 free throw attempts. DeMar DeRozan slipped his defender on several occasions to receive passes for easy baskets, and ended the half with 14 points. Kyle Lowry continued his hot shooting from distance, making 3 of 4, as did Rudy Gay, enjoying his return to his former home court.
Jonas Valanciunas was once again the object of too much scrutiny by the men in stripes, and was called for 3 fouls before intermission. He had no points to offset, which was largely due to being treated like the team’s leper on offense. The big guy needs touches, people!
The Raps wobbled badly starting the third quarter, as turnovers and poor shooting combined to allow the Grizz to sneak back to a 70-all tie. Toronto woke up, and carved out a 12-1 run. Conley, the game’s top scorer, nailed a 3, but the Raps scored 8 straight, and the lead was suddenly 16. The closest the Grizz could get after that was 12. The benches emptied with about 2 minutes to play; the stands were already bereft of fans, save a few who lingered to boo the home team.
This game was won by the starters. Rudy, Kyle and DD were making their shots (62 points, including 8 3s), and defending the ball. Amir Johnson chipped in as always with 14 tough points. JV never got untracked, with only one basket, though he did pull down 7 boards. Terrence Ross and Tyler Hansbrough were effective off the bench. TR is stepping up defensively, using his quick feet and hands to harass ball-handlers, and scoring off turnovers he’s often created.
The Raps head home for another tough matchup, this time against the Chicago Bulls on Friday night.
Putbacks: Rudy had 5 steals, but several of his 4 turnovers were on casual playground passes….the Raps had 14 assists, which is still a problem…Raps had 39 free throws, 22 more than Grizz…Dwight Buycks is clearly the backup point guard of the moment, playing a useful 11 minutes.
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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