USA TODAY Sports
The Toronto Raptors couldn’t overturn a forgettable first half and ended up narrowly losing 88-82 to the Memphis Grizzlies.
The Toronto Raptors were playing their first home game since the All Star Break and it was an emotional night. Rudy Gay was playing against his former team for the first time since being traded to Toronto. Ed Davis was back in town. Terrence Ross was making his first appearance at the Air Canada Centre since winning the Slam Dunk Contest.
Dwane Casey was honest in his assessment of Rudy Gay’s mental preparation as he lined up to face the Grizzlies. He answered a couple questions about it before the game
"It’s got to be emotional. This guy was with the organization for seven years. They give him close to a max contact and than they trade him. It’s going to be emotional. Anybody who says its not is not being totally honest"
It was engaging to observe and speak with Ed Davis on his return to Toronto. Raptors HQ will run a full-length feature on Davis’ return to Toronto later this week.
The Dinos were slow out of the gates and scored 32 first half points. They turned the ball over seven times and shot 25.7% from the field. Thankfully, for the team’s sake, the Grizzlies were pretty sloppy themselves, scoring 43 first half points.
The last times these teams met the end result was a 21 point loss. At halftime, most observers were projecting more of the same. Casey must have struck a chord with his players during the interval, because the team's’ performance was much-improved in the second half.
Gay, DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry struggled to produce offensively and a familiar bench player decided to step up and help out his team.
Alan Anderson scored 19 points on 6 of 7 shooting, including a fourth quarter stretch in which he scored 15 straight points. Anderson’s hot streak ended with him hitting a three pointer while getting fouled and being serenaded with MVP chants as he shot the lone free throw.
The final stretch of the game saw DeRozan and Gay attempt to drive into the heart of the Grizzlies defence. Memphis smartly collapsed on both wing players and Toronto’s duo were unable to find the open perimeter shooters on most of these crucial plays.
Gay shot 5/15 and had five turnovers. It did seem like he was trying to force his offence at times. The game had a playoff atmosphere and Tony Allen even tweeted about the playoff-like tone of the game.
"They weren’t going to let Rudy get going. They were double teaming him on pick and rolls. They were sending help quickly. They made it tough for him. I felt for him because I knew he wanted to do well." - Dwayne Casey
Gay was in a reflective mood after the game and spoke about playing his old team.
"It was emotional a little bit. It was good to see the guys. First half we just weren’t there. I don’t know if it was the schedule or travel. I don’t know. We just weren’t here."
Zach Randolph had a dominant game, finishing with 17 points and 18 rebounds. The Grizzlies as a team grabbed 20 offensive rebounds which led to 20 second chance points.
Today is the trade deadline and the Raptors don’t seem to be primed to make any major moves. There might be a minor deal for a third point guard or a potential D-League call up but it doesn’t look like any major salary commitments are going to be made.
The Raptors are back in action on Friday against the New York Knicks.