For 24 minutes last night, the Raptors looked like they'd broken out of their slump. Patrick Patterson returned with a vengeance, the supporting cast of Norman Powell, Terrence Ross, and Cory Joseph made shots, and Kyle Lowry glommed it all together into some delicious basketball.
Unfortunately, against the San Antonio Spurs, that wasn't enough. Now they'll face another test: a long overnight trip to Memphis and a date with the 26-20 Grizzlies. While the Raptors have won six of the last seven against Memphis, the circumstances make this a tough test. DeMar DeRozan will miss his second straight game, as he remains in Toronto getting treatment on a sprained ankle. Without him, Powell will likely make another start for the Raptors.
Taking this game optimistically though, these are the back-to-back exams you need to get rolling again. The Raptors pushed the Spurs to the brink last night, losing by two despite a sloppy defensive first half and a virtual no-show from starters Jared Sullinger and DeMarre Carroll. Can they build on the positive elements against a stout Memphis defense? If they can, and if they can come away with a win tonight, they'll be rewarded with more winnable games to finish January. Milwaukee, Orlando, and New Orleans all await for a three-game home stand.
Build, and the road to resurgence gets that much easier. Now check out Stephen Campbell's game preview and keep the positive vibes going in the comments.