After playing a competitive first half, the Raptors were shelled in the third quarter and eventually dropped a 21-point decision to the NBA-leading Grizzlies.

Here are some thoughts on the game:

Grizzlies 103, Raptors 82

- The most obvious storyline from this game is that the Raptors were without Primo whipping boy Andrea Bargnani, who missed out with a sore ankle. Ed Davis got the start in Bargnani’s place, finishing with 10 points on 3-of-4 shooting to go along with six rebounds, a block, four turnovers and four fouls in about 28 minutes of action. I’ve been waiting to see what a frontcourt of Davis and Jonas Valanciunas would look like playing extended minutes together, and they didn’t look good tonight, but I can’t say I really expected much from them against one of the best big man combos in the league.

- Valanciunas, especially, had trouble matching up against both Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph a night after having trouble with Omer Asik. If there’s one thing I’ve noticed about JV’s defence (and something that Oliver frequently mentions), it’s that he can’t defend the spin-move right now. He can generally keep other bigs in front of him and maintains good positioning, but when the opposing player spins, Jonas seems to get lost.

- I mentioned the horrible third quarter. The Raptors went into halftime down one after trading slight leads with the Grizzlies for most of the first half, but were promptly dominated in the third frame. The deficit quickly swelled to double digits as the Raptors’ defensive focus waned and the offence became stagnant, and the Grizzlies finished with a 33-14 advantage in the third quarter to take a 20-point lead to the fourth.

Over the last two nights, the Raptors have been outscored 71-42 in third quarters.

- I don’t believe for a second that Kyle Lowry is 100 per cent healthy right now. He seems to have lost quite a bit of his quick burst that usually helps him blow by helpless defenders and get to the rim on offence, and he doesn’t look anything like the defensive hawk he usually is at the point. To make matters worse, Lowry took a hand to the eye in the fourth quarter and when cameras caught him at the end of the game, the eye appeared to be pretty swollen.

- Terrence Ross followed up his impressive performance in Houston with a poor shooting night in Memphis, but it was at least nice to see Dwane Casey stick with the rookie for 30 minutes despite that shooting. For his part, Ross was looking to chip in in other areas of the game, and added three steals, a couple of rebounds and a couple of assists to his eight points. I’m not in favour of simply handing rookies minutes when they don’t deserve them, but if Ross continues to bust his tail on the defensive end, I have no problem with him getting the opportunity to work through his offensive kinks, especially with Landry Fields and Alan Anderson out of the wing rotation for now.

- Linas Kleiza got the start tonight in place of Dominic McGuire, and while he started the game by establishing good post positioning and going to work in the right areas, it took only a few more minutes to see the Kleiza we’ve gotten all too used to – Horrible shot selection, limited defence, all around low basketball IQ. “Long-two Linas” finished with 11 points on 5-of-15 shooting in 25:28 of floor time. I’m not exactly thrilled about the Raptors reportedly being interested in Mickael Pietrus, but at the same time, it can’t get much worse than Toronto’s current revolving door at the small forward position.

- Their bench leaves something to be desired, but if they stay healthy, it’s hard not to like the Grizzlies this season. I don’t think they can be seen as the favourites out West, even with their record, but I do think they’re capable of winning the Conference if they get a break here or there. Memphis has one of the best and most balanced starting lineups in the Association, they have one of the best froncourts – if not the best – in the league, they have a good wing scorer in Rudy Gay and one of the NBA’s best defenders in Tony Allen. Again, staying healthy will be the key, as the Grizzlies always seem to suffer an injury to one of their indispensable key players.

Raptors Player of the Game: DeMar DeRozan – 16 Pts, 5/10 FG, 2/3 3PT, 4/4 FT, 4 Reb, 1 Ast, 1 Stl, 1 TO in 31:43 (DeRozan wasn’t even that good, and I seriously considered not even including a player of the game for the Raps)

Grizzlies Player of the Game: Zach Randolph – 17 Pts, 7/10 FG, 3/4 FT, 13 Reb, 6 Ast, 1 Stl, 2 TO in 30:58 (Marreese Speights also made a strong case with 18 and 12 in just 24 minutes)

If you’ve been reading RaptorBlog recently or if you follow me on twitter, then you’ll know that I think any realistic hopes of competing for a playoff spot might have evaporated already when the Raptors lost both games at Charlotte and Detroit last week, but this Friday’s game against Phoenix really will be the season on the line, no matter how early it is.

The Raptors currently stand at a pitiful 3-13, and after the home game against the Suns, they head out on a five-game Western road trip that likely won’t be kind to them. If they can take care of Phoenix at the ACC and possibly steal a road game at either Utah, Sacramento or Portland (I wouldn’t bet on it), they can escape this hellacious 22-game stretch 5-17 or better, which is obviously horrible, but is close enough to the 7-15 record that I thought they needed to maintain.

Should they lose to the Suns, we’re probably looking at a 3-19 or 4-18 team at best after 22 games, and there is absolutely no way back from those depths.

Comments (23)

  1. The Raps have lowered the bar to depths unseen. This can only mean one thing… get James Cameron.

  2. How much longer does this go on before some organizational changes are even considered?

    I’m not buying this “building team” bullshit, not in a year when you trade your first rounder and don’t posses a number of game changing pieces so the team has to be held to higher expectations than usual.

  3. So subtracting Andrea from the lineup and going with JV and Ed didn’t work…sooooo…now what?

    I don’t know what I was expecting from this team coming into this season but I definitely wasn’t expecting them to be one of the worst in the league. At this point it doesn’t look like they could beat anybody.

  4. A picture microcosm of the raptors franchise would be the following;

    Raps are awful all year, suffer some more heart breaking losses, have injuries pile up, and ultimately end up finishing as the 3rd worst team in the league. The fan base rejoices because our pick is well known to be top 3 protected. The draft lottery rolls around, raps end up fourth and lose their pick…. FML typical raptors…..

  5. Perfect**** not picture

  6. I really dont understand this irrational intrigue with the davis/ valunciunas frontcourt. Davis had one good game. So what? Now hes the raptors saviour? He is a marginally more offensively skilled version of amir johnson that belongs on the bench. Just another BC draft bust. Not in the sense that davis cant be a serviceable player, just not a really impactful one.

    • I wouldn’t call him a bust…when they drafted him they knew he wasn’t going to be a game changer but exactly like you said a serviceable player with some upside…but because people are desperate for something they think that a guy like Davis is the answer…it doesn’t matter who they put in game it honestly won’t matter…there just isn’t enough talent and there’s really nothing that can be done aside from trading/signing/drafting players…it’s about time they get a new GM I think

    • “ad”,
      I agree with you, of course.
      I saw Ed Davis vs. the Thunder on kind of SKY Europe, and the broadcaster were actually laughing at his total lack of offensive skills, and righfully saying he was not more that a long body with longer arms (hense his rebounds).
      To understand the crush of Raptors fans on him, you have to think of them as just the same people that were happy some months ago for not taking home one of the best PG of the NBA history (Steve Nash? Too old!!!)..

  7. calderon
    kleiza
    bargnani
    derozan
    fields
    amir

    i bet the raptors lead the league in untradeable contracts. plus no pick next year. what a mess. even if jonas/lowry/ross ALL pan out, the team is too hamstrung to make any type of a push. sad state of affairs. i’m surprised that in a media heavy environment like Toronto, (especially with no hockey), that Colangelo hasn’t been chastised all that much.

  8. Supposed saviour of the franchise JV with 2 rebounds in 28 minutes? Not even Bargs..

  9. I don’t understand all the BC bashing on this site. The guy has done the best at what he has had dealt to him. He has had a pretty good draft record. dd was picked ninth before him where names like jordan hill, fynn etc. ed davis was picked 13 before him there are a lot of busts in that draft as well. The problem with the raptors are they have no luck at all. They need to lose in a season where their is a potential game changer in the draft. Aka not another Andrea. They need to win this year and LOSE next yr. WIN LESS FOR WIGGINS. They as a franchise have always failed in that area.

    • Wiggins is in the 2013 draft

      • No, Wiggins is in the 2014 Draft. He was originally going to be 2015 but he reclassified. He’ a high school senior this season, he’ll be in the NCAA for the 2013-14 season, and then he’ll be in the 2014 NBA Draft and 2014-15 NBA season.

    • “The guy has done the best at what he has had dealt to him.”

      he’s the one who dealt the cards. These are all his players and his decisions. They have been for years

      “He has had a pretty good draft record”

      compared to what? Rob Babcock? Andrea 1st, Demar 9th, Ross 8th aren’t good in my books. No 2nd rounder that has amounted to anything. You can look at the busts who were selected before players, I’m more concerned with the studs that were drafted after these players. Ed has turned out to be a value pick, but nothing more.

      “The problem with the raptors are they have no luck at all”

      yep because thats how quality teams build a roster. All luck. A magic 8 ball helps their decision making.

      “They need to win this year and LOSE next yr”

      So the team needs to attempt a 2 year tanking process? And why’s that? Because the team’s GM traded away their first round pick in a premature assumption he’s built a good team.

      This team needs to do 1 thing and 1 thing only. Replace BC. The guy is an arrogant, offense drunk, bargnani hooked, general manager, who made his name based on nepotism. I don’t think the Raptors need that anymore.

    • you’re an idiot. stop posting here. go watch minor league hockey or something. fucking christ. you’re almost as bad as eric smith.

  10. If the Raps lose against the Suns and then agaisnt Sacramento and portland, they rather should decide to go all loses and tank hard this year to get in top 3 and get a chance at Wiggins.

    The worst case scenario would be to end up like last season, in a lottery pick that will go directly to OKC…

    In all case, i just cant believe that with 3 new goods players (Lowry, JV, Ross) and an improved DD, we cant win more games than last year…..this is beyond my logical understanding…

  11. So i guess Bargnani isn’t the problem, they got slammed on the boards and played terrible D without him…plus they can’t score…

  12. Hold on Scott! Wait for me!!!!!

  13. I really hate the Raptors, but it is the only team that gets any coverage in Canada; which is embarrasing. Having said that I really hope this team fires their G.M. and tanks so they might have something to look forward to next year. It’s so sad that all the fans of this stinking franchise have forward to look forward to is the ocassional “bright spot”, but I guess that is what all Toronto sports fans have is hope. – To anyone willing to brag about the Argo’, I mean come on really? The league has eight teams.

  14. Seriously if this team Is doing worse than last years roster, the coach has to be blamed at some point, I seriously think they should have hired Lawrence frank last year,a proven nba head coach over Casey the defensive specialist…two more losses and he gets the axe if not colongelo and him both need to go.

  15. Tank Nation Returns.

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