With Vince Carter in town, the narratives for tonight's Raptors/Grizzlies game were plentiful. We could begin with five players on the Grizzlies coming down with some sort of flu virus. We could mention the fact that the weather and traffic got half of the remaining team late to the arena. We could talk about the Raptors quick 9-0 start in the first quarter, or Memphis' stout play for the first three quarters afterwards. Or we could talk about the fourth. Again.
For the second straight high-profile game, the Raptors were burned by a Gasol. This time it was Marc who worked over Jonas Valanciunas (and Patterson and Hansbrough and Amir and anyone else who got in his way). He had 22 points and 12 rebounds. His frontcourt running mate, Zach Randolph had a monster 18 point and 18 rebound game (including 8 offensive boards). Memphis had a 50-35 rebounding advantage for the game. The Grizz, true to their name, gritted and grinded out three quarters of basketball, despite missing some key players, and took a lead into the fourth.
But then that old #WeTheFourth music hit and things changed. It started with Lou Williams, who appears to be playing basketball in a different dimension at times. He goosed the Raps with 13 points on 4-of-8 shooting. Then, as if through some osmosis, Terrence Ross got going. Despite a sleepy three quarters of play, Ross went off for 14 of his 16 points in the 4th. This helps explain how things turned around, but it wasn't the whole story.
"My intent was just try to make it hard for them," Chuck Hayes said after the game. Hayes played 10 minutes in the second half. He scored no points, grabbed one rebound and dished out two assists. And yet, Hayes became the story. On Gasol and Randolph, Hayes remained stolid. "They don't do nothing different then they did the last four, five years. I learn from experience."
As the Raptors' offense cranked up, as Kyle Lowry made big plays (he had 18 points) and DeMar DeRozan kept the team in it (he went for 22 points), as Vince got to tearfully appreciate the Toronto faithful, it was Hayes' presence that moved the Raptors. He slowed the two-man wrecking crew of Gasol and Randolph. It's been these kinds of unlikely performances that have been the story for this team so far in this young season; the depth of the roster finding ways to win.
"I was bummed because they said they made four field goes in the fourth and two of them came on me," Hayes said. "I was kind of irritated by that."
At least Chuck is keeping a level head. So, what did you guys think of the game?