Memphis Grizzlies v Toronto Raptors

In a game that  redefined the words defensive struggle, both the Grizzlies and Raptors shot 36% from the field. Toronto’s five-game win streak comes to an end but there were some positives to draw from going toe-to-toe with one of the best teams in the Western Conference.

Grizzlies 88, Raptors 82

-The Raptors’ perimeter players  had a very tough time scoring and the combination of Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan and Rudy Gay actually combined to start the game 0-of-14. This was to be somewhat expected considering Memphis allows the fewest points in the league (88.5 per game). The air-tight defence led to a season-low 14 first quarter points for Toronto.

-Tony Allen had some harsh words for DeMar DeRozan when Rudy Gay called DeRozan the best 2-guard he’s ever played with, and Allen backed up those words on Wednesday night. He held DeRozan to a measly 7 points on 1-9 shooting. The Grizzlies’ help defence should also be given credit, as Randolph and Gasol not only shut down driving lanes but they switched on to DeRozan and Gay with great success all night.

-Rudy Gay did an admirable job on Marc Gasol in an isolation post-up with four minutes left in the game. He contested Gasol’s hook shot and then fought for the rebound. The problem was Toronto had a hard time taking advantage of that mismatch on the offensive end. I think it would have helped if Rudy was being isolated on the wing as opposed to the top of the key where it’s easier to bring help. Rudy had trouble finding quality shots (5-15 FG) against Tayshaun Prince all night but he still contributed in other areas with 9 rebounds, 3 assists and a steal.

-The defensive intensity in this game was summed up nicely by Tony Allen…

-Considering Kyle Lowry has played with Mike Conley, he should know that Conley can make three-pointers. Lowry repeatedly strayed too far from his man and continuously went under screens even after Conley made shots. For just the third time in the last nine games, Lowry took 10+ shots from the field. He has the ability to be a tremendous scorer, so on nights when Rudy and Demar are struggling (like tonight) Lowry should look for his own offence more often.

-Alan Anderson seems to have better shooting percentages when he’s taking difficult, contested shots late in the shot clock or late in the game. He hit two three four five straight shots with just over nine minutes left and his 15 straight points were just three shy of the team record. This isn’t the first time AA has gotten white-hot off the bench (OKC game comes to mind) and I’d like to see Toronto hold on to him through the deadline. He’s a better option than Terrence Ross *right now* for coach Casey because he has such a polished game.

-If  Bryan Colangelo makes one move tomorrow, it should be to address the backup point guard spot. John Lucas is not capable of defending his own position. It’s not clear whether Lucas can run an offence efficiently every night either, which is why BC should try to add depth behind Kyle Lowry – with a player such as Luke Ridnour, Kirk Hinrich or Beno Udrih.

-Ed Davis made a fitting return to Toronto. Within minutes of entering the game, Davis grabbed a rebound over top of Andrea Bargnani and put home two points. Bargnani was essentially useless for the Raptors, playing 22 scoreless minutes (0/4 FG), grabbing two rebounds and finishing with a team-worst -9 rating. Although the Raptors can make use of Bargnani as a reserve, I wouldn’t be disappointed in the least if he was traded for a pair of Nike’s.

-Despite gathering six rebounds in 18 minutes, Jonas Valanciunas once again had a hard time finding playing time in the second half. Dwane Casey instead opted to use Aaron Gray in the final minutes – a decision I continue to disagree with.

-Amir Johnson had another solid, consistent game. Consistency has become Amir’s middle name of late and although he and Bargs got abused by Z-Bo on the glass, Amir contributed at both ends, going 6-of-10 from the field for 16 points to go along with five rebounds and two blocks. He has now recorded at least one block in 15 straight games.

-If you’re feeling overly depressed about this loss, I have a couple of stats to cheer you up (H/T @MrTySmith). I know these are very small sample sizes (seven games), but still some very encouraging signs about Rudy Gay’s presence in the Raptors’ lineup. Coming into this contest with Memphis, Toronto’s net rating with Rudy Gay on the floor was +9.8 compared to -15.3 with him off the floor. That differential of 25 points would rank first in the NBA if it qualified, with LeBron James in second at +17.8. Toronto also ranks second in the league in points off of turnovers and in second chance points since adding Gay. This roster is extremely athletic and has a lot of potential for growth. If you haven’t already, now is a very good time to jump on the bandwagon, despite tonight’s loss.

Grizzlies Player Of the Game: Mike Conley – 17 Pts (4-10 FG, 3-6 3PT, 6-9 FT), 6 Reb, 6 Ast, 3 Stl, 1 Blk, 3 TO in 41:24

Raptors Player Of the Game: Alan Anderson – 19 Pts (6-7 FG, 4-5 3PT, 3-3 FT), 2 Reb, 1 TO in 19:26

The trade deadline hits at 3:00 PM ET on Thursday, so make sure to check RaptorBlog for all of the latest. The Raptors host the Knicks on Friday night and the Wizards on Monday night. The Raps have recent wins over both teams so expect a couple of competitive games. The Bucks fell to the Nets again on Wednesday night so Toronto is still 5 games back of 8th. 27 games to play.

Comments (20)

  1. Late in the game it seemed like Gay was being too selfish with the ball. Driving to the hoop rather than passing it cost us the game IMO. Also I don’t know why Casey took out Anderson in place of Gray late in the game as I think we should have rode with the hot hand. Overall it was a gutsy effort for the Raps in that fourth, but Z-Bo was a monster down the stretch on offence as well as defence.
    I’d also note that Ross seems to be struggling beyond the arc, I think he should attempt to drive more himself as it seems teams are content with letting him shoot; with good reason.

    • Totally agree with you it was like Rudy Gay was on a mission to show everyone on the Grizzlies he could beat them single handed and it cost us the game coz when he did that the Grizz kept playing like a unit and shut him down really easy by isolating him and stealing the ball you could even see them (Gasol Conley and Randolph) laughing about it as the game was winding down

      • Totally agree, I can’t believe that wasn’t the main story in the recap. Gay lost them the game: he was absolutely brutal in the fourth quarter, dribbling blindly into traffic, missing wide open guys when the D rotated to him, jacking up long 2 pointers with guys in his face, and not making any effort to find Anderson at the end, who was shooting the lights out. I’m really hoping this was a product of him being too jacked up to play his old team, and not a sign of things to come. Terrible performance. Pull your head out of your ass, Rudy!

  2. Great recap. Couldn’t agree more with your opinion on John Lucas. Granted the grizzlies are very good defensively but Lucas can’t seem to do anything other than generate his own shot once in awhile. He constantly dribbles around the ball like a blind mice looking to pass to someone and ends up passing to someone five feet beside him because he cannot create a play for anyone else. If he is on the floor, someone else needs to be running the point.

    Someone needs to tell Ross to start driving to the hoop. There’s something mechanically wrong with his shot right now because he is not missing short or long. He’s missing left or right so he’s either off balance on the way up or his grip is off. Something needs to be fixed there and until it is would like to see him drive and stop settling for jumpers. Where are all the naysayers now he said we should ditch Demar and let Ross start? Silly fool, trixs are for kids!

    I love when AA has games like this. It shuts all his haters up too. The man brings it. He can shoot and he can finish at the rim. It must drive the guy nuts going to sleep at night that Bargs is making $10mm/season and he is league minimum I believe. AA would kill AB 1 on 1. I would pay to see that game.

    Lastly, what a tough game! The first 6 raptors they said on the broadcast went 7/32 to start the game. That is terrible. Too bad we couldn’t get it going but it is what it is.

  3. What?! No mention of the ball getting stuck in the shot clock at the end of the first half? That’s a million dollar shot, baby!

  4. Every time I see Randolph play, it brings a tear to the eye. There he was…screaming to be picked at Number 17 and we took Michael Bradley instead. I was so furious that draft night. Granted I didn’t expect him to be a 20-10 man like he has been…but I was sure he could have been a 15-7 man.

  5. Despite the loss, our playoff odds went from 20% to 25%.espn.go.com/nba/hollinger/playoffodds I love that I’ve been reduced to cheering for my team to squeak into 8th.

  6. Tough loss and it hurts … But on the upside all the right eastern teams lost aswell . Milwaukkee and boson lost so we just gotta keep our hheads up and pedal down . Heres to hoping boston blows the team up so we get in . I dont care if we make 8th seed and get blown away . Would just be nice to see a t.o team in the playoffs plus the raptors playoff crowds are insane . Watching raptors game in 6 on youtube with chuck and the sea of red chanting howard still gives me goose bumps . T.o fans need a playoff series

  7. DD Gay and lowry are showing they cannot work together to run a effeiceny offense.
    Also i wanted to know if PER is a valuable stat to measure how good a player is

    • PER is a good rough guide, but there are holes in it, as with every stat to date that seeks to collate a number of measurements into a single metric. The PER Wikipedia entry has a good writeup on some of the holes.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Player_efficiency_rating

    • If the offense is all ISO players for each of those players of course they cant play together! They got to move the ball, they need to have more of a pick and roll offense. Casey is a good coach but im starting to question his X and Os on the offense end.

      • Me too, still don’t understand JVs minutes, and Ross as well, how is he suppose to get out of Casey’s dog house if he only plays 3 minutes, JV wants to learn, he gives you as much as he can, there will be mistakes and those are the best lessons but he’s not getting the chance

        Really questioning some decisions here

  8. Really think some ‘fans’ are being too critical here. Raps gave one of the best teams in the league all they could handle. Memphis barely escaped with two points.
    Too bad people are always looking for someone to blame instead of seeing the positives.

    • It’s not being about being negative, we are simply dissecting the last few critical minutes of the game that should be addressed. If you were watching the game, Rudy Gay simply had his ego way too high and tried to put the game on his hands. Driving into the basket; praying he gets fouled, missing open looks from other players. What he didn’t realize is that Memphis had him figured out already from the 3rd quarter.

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