Zach Randolph, who finished up with 24, laid it in to force overtime and from that point on, it was pretty much a one-man show.
Unfortunately for the Raps, that man was Rudy Gay who scored eight of the Grizzlies’ 12 points in the extra period. He finished the night with a team-high 29.
Gay made four of the five jump shots he attempted in the overtime, three of them driving to the hoop and over the arms of multiple of Raptors defenders.
“He’s a big guy and I think people underestimate how long he is,” Antoine Wright said of Gay. “Once a guy like that, with the type of skills he has, gets going there’s pretty much nothing you can do about it. He can jump over everyone and he has a high release so it’s tough to affect his shot. But we just have to do a better job of not letting him catch the ball and forcing him out further away from the spot that he likes to get the ball.”
Gay actually made his way into the Raptors locker-room after the game to apologize to Wright. It was Gay’s errant elbow that cut Wright for three stitches forcing him to miss 21/2 minutes of the final 41/2 while he was stitched up.
“I’ve known Rudy for a long time,” Wright said. “He knows I was going to hunt him down if he didn’t come in here and apologize.”
Through three quarters, three individual members — Jose Calderon, Amir Johnson and Sonny Weems — of the Raptors reserves were single-handedly outscoring the entire Memphis bench.
It has been suggested in the past that Stoudamire regrets ever leaving Toronto, but if that was once the case, Stoudamire says it no longer is.
“The emotions were so high at the time and I wanted to get to a winner so bad and have a chance to win,” he said. “Going to Portland with all the young players they had, I just felt like that was a good fit for me.”
Were he given a do-over, Stoudamire suggests he would have handled things much the way Chris Bosh has handled his situation — not that Stoudamire is suggesting Bosh is leaving. Like the rest of the world, he has no idea. He just likes the way he has handled things to this point.
“I commend Chris Bosh on the way he has handled the situation,” Stoudamire said. “There has probably been plenty of times throughout that he could have went bad on the situation. I think he has handled himself well. I think he has spoken well and although he hasn’t given them the answer they wanted yet and signed on that dotted line, he hasn’t alienated (anyone) either.”
Hedo Turkoglu, who missed last Wednesday’s game to make a trip to Turkey to deal with a family emergency and didn’t get here until late Monday, was particularly ineffective. He had just one point, one rebound, two assists and three turnovers in 30 minutes.
Still, Triano stuck with him for the duration of overtime.
"He’s a big part of this team and he will be going forward and it’s not like we can’t play him," said the coach. "We’re going to play him and he’s going to be on the floor when the games matter and he’s going through a little bit of a tough time lately personally and physically."
Turkoglu admitted to being a bit distracted. "My mind is still kind of back home worrying about the things I’ve been through the past few days," he said.
The Raptors started slow and dug themselves a deep hole late in the first quarter, before making a game of it. And they appeared to have it sewn up with less than three minutes left, when Bosh powered up from underneath the basket for a layup and a 93-86 lead.
Bosh howled with emotion as he headed back down the court and the crowd roared in kind. But Memphis weren’t through, as O.J. Mayo drained a three-point shot and Randolph made a game-saving drive with 1.7 seconds left to force overtime.
Point guard Jose Calderon provided a big lift off the Toronto bench, chipping in 12 points, six rebounds and a game-high nine assists in more than 22 minutes of court time.
He said it is not like the Raptors to allow games like this to slip away.
“We just have to keep working,” Calderon said. “It’s tough because we were playing well at home and these are the types of games we need to win. They have beaten us twice this year, so I don’t know.”
The last 37 seconds were particularly brutal: O.J. Mayo hit an uncontested three-pointer, and after Andrea Bargnani missed a jumper late in the shot clock, Zach Randolph recorded a layup in transition to tie the game with 1.7 seconds remaining in regulation. Chris Bosh, who was sensational with 32 points, missed a tough jumper as time expired.
"We kind of screwed up on the coverage," Triano said of the defence on Mayo’s three-pointer.
With the Raptors trailing by one point in overtime, Turkoglu missed another quick three-pointer with two minutes remaining. Memphis scored the final eight points of the extra five minutes.
"It’s not like we can’t play him," Triano said of Turkoglu. "We’re going to play him. He’s going to be on the floor when the games matter. He’s gone through a little bit of a tough time lately personally and physically by not being involved."
Video – Gay steps up in OT to lead Grizz past Raptors
Chris Bosh gave Toronto a 97-92 lead with 37.9 seconds left in regulation, but the Griz stormed back.
Hollins called a timeout and then Mayo calmly sank a 3-pointer.
“It was drawn up for me to make a shot or make a play,” Mayo said. “I thought if they switched I was definitely putting it up.”
When the Raptors’ defense shifted to Randolph floating toward the basket, Mayo was left with a clean look for the long-range dagger. Andrea Bargnani then missed a 21-footer that Griz point guard Mike Conley rebounded.
“We knew what we had to do,” said Conley, who had 13 points and eight assists.
Kayla Harris and Ryan McNeill talk about Toronto having their eight-game winning streak at home snapped, the Raptors clawing their way back into the game when Jose Calderon entered the game, the crowd at the Air Canada Centre getting behind Chris Bosh as an MVP candidate and the spark Amir Johnson provided the team.
Item third: Good Lord, the Grizzlies’ bench is just abysmal. Is there a more pejorative term than "abysmal" (that’s PG at worst) that I can use to describe said bench? DA, at least, appeared marginally conscious tonight. Another bench note-am I seeing things, or has Hamed Haddadi been entirely absent from the bench the last two nights? Does this mean something? I doubt it, since the only NBA exec who wants to give him a contract already has,and that was Gordon "Methuselah was my grandchild" Chiesa. The bench, even with a starter or two always present, just struggles so mightily to hit spots during execution, and as the shot clock dwindles, the "chickens without heads" theme becomes ever more prominent. DeMarre Carroll, in particular, really seems to have lost his footing (pun only slightly intended) during his rookie season.
"I think they were kind of relaxed and thought the game was over," Mayo said.
It certainly wasn’t. Mayo made a quick three and, after Bargnani missed a jumper, Randolph tied it on a driving layup with 1.7 seconds left.
"We could have called timeout and set something up but I felt like we had a break so I wanted to get it up the court real quick," Conley said. "I heard Zach calling my name from behind. I just wanted to bounce him the ball, get it to him where he could score, and he finished it."
Toronto had a chance to win but Bosh missed a jumper from the corner, sending it to overtime.
"These are tough games because we haven’t played in a week," Bosh said. "They played last night and they were able to shake their rust off."
While Gay took over the game down the stretch, without Mayo’s 3-pointer there would not have been an overtime.
"We knew that they were going to go for a three and we had our coverages. We just didn’t react the way we were supposed to," Jay Triano said. "It was a tough break, but we kind of screwed up on the coverage."
Mayo said he didn’t expect to be so wide open, but that he was ready for whatever the defense gave and that the shot felt good the moment it left his hands. Snapping a five-game losing streak, he was proud of the fight his team showed when the game was on the line.
"We easily could have quit," Mayo said. "But we kept believing, kept fighting and we did a great job once we got into overtime. We felt like it was a breath of fresh air and 0-0 and a new ball game. We had them working all game. They finally took the lead under five minutes in the fourth quarter and I think they were kind of relaxed and thought the game was over. We kept fighting. We wanted to win really badly. It worked out for us."
I usually hate switches, it will work for some teams like Atlanta because they have good athletes in most positions. But here, you can’t ask Jose to guard Gay, and expect to come out fine. Lots of people in my section blame Jose for this, but this is really a coaching decision, they want to switch to prevent Conley turning the corner on Jose.
The Raptors lose the game not because of the switches in overtime, but other stuff like the our 53 million dollar man went missing again. Mr 4th quarter has 0 points in the 4th quarter, just awesome.
Calderon did not play great defense on Rudy Gay at the end of the game and let Conely walk right in for the game tying points at the end of the fourth, but are you sure you want to hand the keys to this team to Jarrett Jack? No offense to Jack, he has had a great year thus far, but he is far from consistent. Jack was a non-factor tonight and it was Calderon that brought the team back in the second and fourth quarters. Without his effort off the bench this game would be a write-off. Calderon and Jack compliment each other well. When Jack is having an off night, Jose is there to take the lions’ share of minutes and vice versa. Not to mention Jose has made the second unit a force to reckoned with. If you subtract Jose from the equation; nights like tonight will be much, much worse. Hold on to the depth that has gotten you this far. You’re welcome, Mr. Colangelo.
Triano, of course, didn’t escape their vitriol. One of the main complaints was that he subbed Turkoglu back in despite him playing poorly. Yes, he subbed a relative rookie out for the ten year veteran with the history of coming up big in the clutch and lots of big game experience. If Phil Jackson had done it, it would have been called an intelligent gamble. Triano does it and he’s an awful coach. And you know what? I’ve seen Phil Jackson, Gregg Popovich, Pat Riley, Chuck Daly and Jerry Sloan do the EXACT same thing. And I’ve seen it backfire. Sometimes that happens.
The other complaint against Triano was that he allowed Calderon to switch off to Gay, which obviously caused a mismatch Memphis exploited. The last time I saw this short a memory, I was swimming around my fishbowl in a former life! Apparently none of these complainers remember that the switching on defense strategy was one of the reasons the Raptors started turning things around in December. It’s worked well enough for them to go 22-11 since then, but an overtime loss against an offensively talented team, and suddenly it’s the worst strategy in the world.
Kayla Harris chats with Amir Johnson about how he spent All-Star weekend, what is was like watching his teammates in the dunk contest and All-Star game, what music he plays on his iPod before games and the teams desire to leap frog the teams currently ahead of them in the standings.
– “Toronto’s defence – especially in overtime – was suspect when you consider how Calderon and Turkoglu continued to switch off on Mike Conley and Gay. A number of times there was no reason to switch – Turk could have easily stayed on Gay. But Gay just stared down Calderon and put him in the torture chamber time and time again.”
– “There has to be better situational awareness. Up 5 with :37 seconds to go … you can’t give up an open 3-ball. And then transition defence on the tying basket was not good … You’ve got to get back.”