The Memphis Grizzlies got impressive performances from their big men and their defence tonight, as they won over the Toronto Raptors 92-86. Looking at the game as a whole, it should never have been that close.
The Raptors struggled mightily offensively, shooting just 32 per cent from the floor, as no individual player shot more than 50 per cent. From three, the team was a putrid 5-for-28, the kind of stat that makes you want to dump your head in ice water.
Lou Williams led the team in scoring with 21, while Kyle Lowry added 20 of his own. The latter’s sheer will and the team’s 21 offensive rebounds were the bright spots of the evening; the combination kept Toronto in the game for three quarters.
Memphis, though, down one to start the fourth quarter, began the period on an 8-0 run and never looked back. Marc Gasol was great with 26 points and seven rebounds, posting a +16 mark. Zach Randolph had a double-double with 19 points and 13 rebounds.
Quite honestly, considering where both teams are, it should’ve been easier for the Grizzlies tonight. Whether that means the loss is a moral victory for the Raptors or not, I think the jury’s still out. We'll find out more in the next five games, all of which are against teams with losing records.
Other thoughts from this one, in no particular order:
- There may be an argument for putting DeMar DeRozan on some sort of minutes cap going forward. For the second straight game, he didn’t look like he had his legs under him. He played 33 minutes nonetheless, going 2-for-11 for just six points. Keep in mind, the former All-Star is coming back from his first injury of any kind, and may need additional in-game rest before he’s back to form.
- After being held out of the game against Milwaukee, forward James Johnson played just eight minutes, all in the first half. Since Terrence Ross has been removed from the starting lineup, it appears Johnson is the odd man out of Dwane Casey’s rotation. This might not sit well with fans, who have seen his aggression as a possible fix for Toronto’s defensive woes.
- As for Ross, the 16-point game off the bench against Milwaukee may be a mirage. He was back to his struggling self on Wednesday, going 0-for-3 from the field in 18 minutes.
- Despite a truly awful night from distance, the Raptors guards again got three-happy to start the fourth quarter when Memphis went on their run. Without Jonas Valanciunas on the floor, shots were fired at will. When he returned, though, Memphis went at the big man relentlessly on defence. There seems to be no easy solution to the Valanciunas problem - opposing teams have scouted his defence and know which buttons to push. Memphis sure did tonight.
- Patrick Patterson has become quite the rebounder, and may have a decent case for starting ahead of Amir Johnson when/if his jump shot returns. He had eight boards tonight, but influenced a lot of taps to keep the Raptors in possession of the ball.
Next up, Philadelphia on Friday night. Off the court, we find out tomorrow if Kyle Lowry is an All-Star starter, which might be a nice consolation prize at this point.
What were your thoughts on this one?