Raptors return home to take on their former Canadian rivals. As I wrote in the in the DNB today the Grizz are on the upswing and the Raptors are on the downward trend. It is a major difference from where they started as franchises. That said on one night with the Raptors having the home court advantage could they cash in and break a 5 game losing streak to the Grizzlies?
A sloppy turnover from Calderon leads to a slam for Gasol to even up the game at 2. Calderon would make up for the mistake hooking up Amir Johnson for his second basket in a row with a jam on the break and Raptors had a 6-2 lead. A good start for the Raptors overall, but DeRozan was struggling with Tony Allen guarding him and could not get going. Over 4 minutes in and it was just 6-4 with Amir Johnson with 4 for the Raptors and Gasol with 6 for the Grizzlies. Calderon hits a nice three pointer and Raps had an 11-4 lead. A turnover and a crazy lob pass by James Johnson did not work out, But the Raps keep possession and get an Aaron Gray basket causing the Grizzlies to call a time out down 13-4 early.
Memphis responded coming out of the time out Rudy Gay hit a jumper to be the first man not named Gasol to score for them making it 15-10. Raps responded right away with the famous Calderon to Amir combo hooking up for two points. Memphis kept charging and had picked up their defense while starting to spread it around on offense. Raptors were hanging on though to a 19-14 lead with a time out on the floor. It was time to see if the Raptors learned something from the Hornets game and closed out the quarter strong. The answer early would be not so much with a made three, a turnover and an open look at three for Mayo that did not fall. A easy Rudy Gay slam would tie it at 21 then a turnover and put back and it was a 23-21 Grizzlies lead. Memphis closed the quarter on a 19-8 run and cashed in on 5 Raptor turnovers as part of that.
Jerryd Bayless with a nice spin to bucket and created contact made the basket and free throw for first points of the 2nd quarter. Then after a Grizzlies bucket he saved a ball then got the ball out to Kleiza for 3. Linas would return the favor hooking up Bayless for a 3 and the Raptors had a 30-25 lead. After a time out Mayo nailed a three pointer to make it a 2 point game. Raptors were getting a solid performance from Bayless and were bringing it on defensive end. Ed Davis an offensive board and a score with a foul and a chance to make it a three point play which he made and it was 39-30 Raptors with 6:48 to play in the half. Aside from some silly turnovers, the Raptors were doing well up 41-34 with five minutes and change left in the half. Demar DeRozan was having a quiet night by made a love move to the basket and finished off when the Raptors needed it as the Grizzlies pulled to within 4. That was followed by an Ed Davis jumper to make it an 8 point advantage. Raptors did a better job closing out this quarter unlike the first. They only lose one point on that lead in the final 2 minutes gave them a 52-45 advantage at the half.
Grizzlies come out firing in the 3rd with a quick 7-0 run to tie the game up and Casey has to call a time out with 9:25 to play and Raptors 0-3 to start the half. Rudy Gay keeps the run going and steal and layup and the added to that, 11-0 for the Grizzlies to start the half. Amir Johnson stopped the bleeding with basket to make it 56-54 Memphis. Raptors showed some life finally and got the game tied up at 60. The defense had picked up and the Raptors were very active looking to make steals. This had turned into a competitive close game again. Calderon a big three kept the Raptors close with the score 64-63 Grizzlies. Rudy Gay cut right down the lane for a slam to cap a 6-0 response after the Calderon triple. Dwane Casey decided to go to the bench and it worked well as the Raptors went on an 8-0 run to take a one point lead 71-70. Grizzlies would once again establish the lead again but a late basket by Barbosa would make it just a 2 point lead heading to the 4th with the score 77-75 for the former Vancouver Grizzlies.
The 4th quarter starts as the 3rd ended with a Barbosa bucket to tie the game at 77. Barbosa was Caliente which means hot in Jose Calderon's world. He was lights out hitting a deep three to give the Raptors and 86-81 lead. Grizzlies get it back to a one point game then Linas Kleiza made 3 big shots in a row and the Raptors had a 93-87 leads thanks to that. Grizzlies has they have many times tonight claw back and make it a one point game. A charge on Kleiza gave them a chance to take the lead back but they missed on a jumper. Raptors have a turnover and give them a second chance to take the lead and they take advantage. Basket and a foul sends Gay to the line and he makes the and 1. Grizzlies on an 8-0 run lead 95-93 with just over 3 minutes to play. Both team picked up the D and finally James Johnson got a score and a foul shot to make it 96-95 Raptors. Grizzlies answered with a bucket but then Calderon scores and is fouled with 1:07 to play. Missed the and one though and it was 98-97 Raptors. Grizz got a free throw to even it up at 98. Aaron Gray makes one of two at the line which is above his season average of 40% at the line. Rudy Gay scores and quiets the crowd momentarily. Raptors have the ball down 1 with 26.3 to play. Pass gets tipped out of bounces and Raptors keep possession but Kleiza misses an open look. Long bomb pass to Tony Allen and he scores and is fouled. If he makes the free throw it is a two possession game with 8.9 seconds left. But he missed it. Raptors call a time out and have 7.8 seconds to get a three to tie the game. Raptors bring in Butler for whatever reason he passes it to Jose who misses a three from the top of the arc and that is pretty much it. Grizzlies missed two free throws at the end but Raps had not time to even chuck up a prayer. Grizzlies with a quality win 102-99 doing what good teams do.
Raptors had 6 players in double figures but it was not enough. The Raptors failure to close out quarters and games comes back to bite them yet again. Demar DeRozan struggled on this night with just 4 points. Tony Allen is a solid defender but Demar has to be able to score on every night regardless. In a close game like this that is one of many things you can point to as a difference. Grizzlies had they not won could have pointed to the free throw line where they were 22-32 at the line. The Raptors were a solid 17-20 at the line. Ultimately the team with more talent found a way to win. That is the reality of the situation if you are being honest about it. You love the Raptors fight but they are very rough around the edges. They had 16 turnovers on the night which isn't that bad, but it seemed like almost ever mistake they made came at a bad time for it to happen and the Grizzlies made them pay almost every time. Grizzlies had 3 players with 20 + in Gasol, Gay and Conley. Gay was the highest with 23 points and played well down the stretch in this one.