Fred VanVleet and the Toronto Raptors came into tonight’s matchup against Ja Morant and the Memphis Grizzlies with almost no momentum. In addition to players like OG Anunoby missing this game due to injuries, they were fresh off getting demolished by the Warriors in San Francisco. Gary Trent Jr. and friends started sluggishly once again.
Early in this contest, it looked like Toronto was going to be in for yet another long night. Memphis was getting any open look they wanted while dominating on the glass. Even with Scottie Barnes hoisting up a 45-foot prayer near the end of the first quarter, Toronto went into halftime down by 12.
Nick Nurse must have given the most rousing halftime speech in NBA history, as the team that came out for the second half looked completely different from the one we saw earlier in the game. Toronto tallied 67 second-half points while tightening up the defense, which helped them pull out a 126-113 win in Memphis.
Toronto should head into their final game of the road trip against Indiana with tons of confidence after a tremendous offensive performance on the road. While almost everyone on the roster had some positive moments, there was one player who helped dig the Raptors’ early hole.
Toronto Raptors guard Gary Trent Jr. helped seal the win.
While Barnes, the suddenly hot Precious Achiuwa, and VanVleet made very compelling cases for this spot, Trent gets the nod for helping Toronto pull out the victory in the fourth quarter. While all five of Toronto’s starters hit double-figures, Trent led the team in scoring with 26 points.
After struggling to get hot early in the contest, Trent caught fire in the fourth quarter, scoring 17 points and nailing multiple contested 3-pointers. Nights like tonight are the exact reason that Trent was brought to Toronto and handed such a lucrative contract at just 22 years old.
While the suddenly quality defender didn’t have an amazing night on that end, that performance can be excused when you completely eviscerate Memphis in every conceivable fashion during the fourth quarter. This was without question one of Trent’s best games as a Raptor.
He might not always have the most efficient nights shooting the ball, but he is not lacking confidence, and that skill will enable him to replicate this performance a few more times this season.
The Toronto Raptors need more out of Chris Boucher.
Surprise! Boucher is in here again! The loss of Khem Birch meant he would have to play as an undersized center against the likes of Steven Adams, Brandon Clarke, and Jaren Jackson Jr. in the paint. Predictably, that did not go well, as he was eaten alive during his brief cameo on the floor.
Boucher made two of his four shots in seven minutes, but his lack of rebounding was killer for Toronto. At one point late in the first half, Memphis had six offensive rebounds while Toronto had eight combined boards. Getting put on a poster by Morant is certainly not going to make his night any better.
While Pascal Siakam didn’t have his best game after some strong showings against Golden State and Sacramento, he did have a stretch in the third quarter where he was facilitating and scoring with ease. Every minute Boucher was on the floor, the Raptors were getting pummeled in the paint.
Boucher’s struggles have been well-documented, but he ends up in the dud column once again because he continues to make the same mistakes despite Nurse giving him plenty of minutes. When Birch comes back to full health, this team may have to reckon with taking him out of the rotation.