The Grizzlies are always a tough opponent, especially on their home court. But coming into this one having lost four in a row, and without Mike Conley and Marc Gasol, the Raptors were facing a team with Jordan Farmar in the starting lineup with JaMychal Green and Xavier Munford playing heavy minutes off the bench.
It wasn't easy though, as the Raptors trailed by eight at the half. But a 29-19 third quarter gave Toronto a lead heading into the final 12 minutes. Thanks to a three-point barrage from Terrence Ross midway through the fourth and some clutch free throws late, the Raptors hung on for the 99-95 win.
A few notes:
- Kyle Lowry's elbow injury will be an ongoing storyline for the remainder of the regular season. Tonight: 36 minutes, 7-for-17 from the field, 22 points, three rebounds, two assists. If the Raptors want to be encouraged though, Norman Powell continued his strong play with 14 points, four rebounds, five assists, two steals and one block. With each game, it doesn't sound as far-fetched to see the second round draft pick start in the playoffs.
- Ross's playoff resume has been uneven, to be kind. His fourth quarter spurt tonight is a reminder of how great the Raptors can be in the playoffs if they get some secondary scoring beyond Lowry and DeMar DeRozan in the postseason.
- Just another steady night from DeRozan, who continues to hum along. 27 points, six rebounds, four assists. 10 of 11 from the free throw line
- Jonas Valanciunas had a huge impact on the game as well, hitting 9 of his 10 free throws including some huge ones down the stretch in the final seconds of the fourth quarter. Also: 14 rebounds and seven blocks. In a battle against Zach Randolph, Valanciunas stepped up.
- As I'm writing this, the Cavs and Hawks are heading to overtime. If the Hawks pull out the win, the Raptors will move to within one game in the loss column for the number one seed, with the tiebreaker over the Cavs. 1-8 matchup vs. the Bulls, anyone?