Grizzlies 103, Raptors 82 – Box

If you turned the game off at half time, you probably finished the night pretty happy with the Raptors. If you watched the entire game, however, you’re likely left disappointed and with a bitter taste in your mouth, as well as an even more bitter realization that, despite a handful of narrow losses providing hope to the contrary, this is probably not a very good basketball team we’re cheering for.

With no Andrea Bargnani, Ed Davis entered the starting line-up looking to build on his recent success off the bench, while Linas Kleiza was also inserted for some additional offense and due to the struggles of Dominic McGuire to make people realize he’s even on the floor. The loss certainly can’t be hung on either player, nor can Bargnani’s absence be used as an excuse given how he’s been vilified when he plays lately. As it was, however, Davis did nothing more than what we’d expect from his bench role, albeit under very tough match-up circumstances, while Kleiza simply decided to chuck and throw the ball at the rim wildly, finishing 5-of-15 in just 25 minutes. There were also numerous times where I rewound to try and figure out who Kleiza was supposed to be guarding. Ed had 10-and-6 but also had four turnovers and had a lot of trouble establishing position offensively, which explains why he had just four field goal attempts in 28 minutes.

The lone benefit of a poor Kleiza performance was more Terrence Ross, who looked to build on his big garbage-time performance against Houston on Tuesday. Instead, in his 30 minutes Ross looked every bit a rookie, struggling with his shot horribly but also providing exciting glimpses of why the Raptors drafted him so high. Yes, he shot 4-of-13 and missed all six three point attempts, which was especially concerning since most of them were open looks, but he also showed some nice skill driving to the basket and forced a handful of turnovers. His man defense isn’t good yet, but the potential is definitely there. It’s clear so far that he’s most comfortable in a wide-open game, which the Raptors rarely play. He’ll only be afforded the opportunity to make that difference in transition if he can also knock down shots, so he’ll need to fix that 28% clip from downtown.

Don’t forget, too, that Ross had Trick or Treat Tony on him for parts of the game. Allen is an elite wing defender and also gave DeMar DeRozan trouble all night. While DeRozan’s line looks like an efficient 16 points on 5-of-10 shooting, including a pair of threes, half of that damage came in the fourth quarter with Allen either on the bench or not concerned with DeRozan at the three-point line. DeRozan wasn’t nearly assertive enough in the first three quarters, when the team really could have used an offensive spark. Again, though, it’s Tony Allen, so offensive sins can be forgiven.

Speaking of offensive spark, Kyle Lowry once again failed to provide one, putting up a pretty empty 12-4-4 line that also came with three turnovers and a handful of curious decisions on defense. I know the Raptors were in a zone for parts of the game, but even still I made note multiple times of Lowry hedging on a ball carrier into the paint and leaving his man wide open at the three point line. Memphis finished 8-of-18 from behind the arc, but things could have been much worse from out there. Helping on the ball carrier is fine if a) he’s a threat and b) you disrupt him, but simply taking a few steps towards him or wildly reaching for a steal doesn’t help.

Of course, it wouldn’t have made much sense for the Grizzlies to become perimeter-oriented in the face of the Raptor defense. That’s because they are the best interior team in the league, with the ridiculously effective duo of Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph. Honestly, how any team could look at the Grizzlies and not be worried in a playoff series is beyond me. Gasol gets all of the love for being the best passing big man in the game, but Randolph is no slouch either, and he found Gasol with high-low feeds multiple times for easy baskets or fouls. Gasol shot 6-of-15, a poor mark that speaks to the Raptors doing a decent job defensively when he posted up on the blocks. When he was moving, however, the Raptors had no hope. Randolph was a much cleaner 7-of-10 for a 17-13-6 line, and was really the key difference maker in this game. It’s unbelievable to see how far Randolph has come (I highly recommend this article, by the way).

Obviously, this wasn’t a great match-up for the Raptor bigs. Jonas Valanciunas is being welcomed into the NBA by a steady stream of competent big men, it seems, and it will be good for his development in the long run. Tonight, however, he had trouble getting the ball in the paint and understandably struggled with Randolph. Any time he did touch the ball, it seemed, he turned it over. He did have three blocks and did a good job as a help defender, though. Davis and Amir Johnson are too small to really battle with this duo, and they were both pretty ineffective on them and Marreese Speights, who also had 18-and-12 and was left open in mid-range far too often as the defense keyed in on the paint. I feel bad picking on Davis since he is at least a smart defender and able to help without leaving his man open, a rarity on this team. Aaron Gray was called upon for 18 minutes, too, and while yes, he’s a big body and can lean on Gasol, he picked up four fouls in his short time and also committed three turnovers.

What else is there to say, really? It was a game against a much better team, and the Raptors hung tough in the first half but couldn’t match skill once Lionel Hollins told his crew it was game time. The Raptors shot just 31% in the second half, got creamed on the boards, and started turning the ball over like crazy (11 turnovers in the second half), which is very uncharacteristic for them. The defense got worse, too, but not significantly. The difference at that end was more in the steady stream of foul shots the Grizzlies got rather than the slight up-tick in field goal percentage. It really looked like the Raptors were just worn out in the second half and thus had even more trouble defending than usual.

Or, if you’re Quincy Acy, you just wanted to announce your presence with authority by clobbering Rudy Gay with a flagrant foul.

I’m trying to think if I’ve missed anything important. Basically, the effort defensively was at least better than we’ve seen recently (for some), this is just a very good team and a poor match-up for the Raptors. Offensively, even though Bargnani has his warts, this team struggles at times to create and he could have been of some help, especially in the third quarter (although the Raptors then would have given up 120 points).

It was not a good game, and not a pleasure to watch first thing this morning (I PVR’d).

Sorry if I missed anything…I’m probably purposefully avoiding frustrating topics in my subconscious. You probably are, too, though. Life of a Raptor fan.

  • Nilanka15

    I wish the rest of the team hard-fouled with Acy’s ferocity.  Whatever happened to good old fashioned Eastern Conference basketball (“no layups”)?

    • Dan

       Jose jumps out of the way and pretty much hugs the guy and tells him what a great dunk or layup it is and then asks for his address so he can send him the friendship bracelet he is making him when he goes to the bench.

    • Sam Holako

      Went out the door in 1999

  • CJT

    Didn’t think the defensive effort was any better last night than usual to be honest.  Blown coverages all over the place etc. 

    • Destro

      It was in the 1st half most definitely…I think mid way thru the third the game was over and guys stopped caring…

  • ckh26

    3 and 12 !  Not what was expected…Not even close. So now with 20% of the sched almost done its not to early to speculate with good reason for changes. Will the coach be on the hot seat. Have these loogins tuned him out ?  The players, which guy is marched out and shot in front of everyone to let the gang know this isn’t going to go on without repercussions and the coach is going no-where. Do we tie the can to a high profile management type to admit this is dreck of the highest quality and there are repercussions for spending the budget unwisely on this group.

    If your for real.. one of these is about to happen.  What say the contributors to this forum on which one ?

  • RapthoseLeafs

    Memphis looked disinterested in the 1st half. Then in the 3rd Quarter, they put their foot back on the gas – although in the middle of this quarter, one had to wonder about the non-chalant passes that led to a few turn-overs. It seemed like YMCA basketball for a number of minutes.

    Missing AB might’ve changed the picture somewhat – but I doubt it would’ve stemmed the tide. It certainly didn’t help that we had a total of 16 points from our Bigs, as opposed to 54 from Memphis Bigs.

    Never-the-less, it’s hard to win games with 82 points.

    My concern with running Davis out there, and Jonas (to a lesser degree) is how it affects their confidence. Jonas doesn’t need to start EVERY game, and Ed should be allowed to develop himself (with more minutes) in his current role off the Bench. Key is … MORE minutes. Maybe time that Amir catch some extra rest. And AB slim down to 30-32 minutes instead of 36+

    IMO – for this Memphis game – Raps should have led with Gray & Amir at the start – then 6/7 minutes left in the quarter, insert Jonas (for Gray), followed shortly by Ed (a couple of minutes later).

    What has to concern Casey, is his PG position – as we all know the SF position presents its’ own problems at this time. Lowry may be not in the groove at this time, but he needs to get there soon. He NEEDS to involve his team, and start acting like a Leader …. a commodity Raps have long searched for, and haven’t seen – in my eyes – for 10 years (give or take a couple).

    What exactly ails Raptor Nation?

    1) It may be a PG not engaged
    2) A Power Forward we all wish could approach last year (to a reasonable degree)
    3) A shooting Guard – who needs motivation (Hollinger) to light his ass
    4) A few injuries on a depleted team (one that was like that even before the injuries)
    5) A Centre being thrown to the wolves,
    6) A Bench that was supposed to be our strong suit.

    All of these are good reasons (not excuses – reality), but what strikes me as MOST IMPORTANT to Raps turning this around, is someone stepping up and being a LEADER.

    It has been, and it continues to be, our greatest weakness – IMO.

    • RapthoseLeafs

       Forgot #7

      7) Having a SF who is not a 3rd stringer on decent teams

      • tdotgooner

        I think at this stage we should just start ross. At least that way, he can develop as well.

  • Sud

    I just came to a new realization. Rooting for any of the Toronto teams is like being a religious cult follower. No matter what evidence, and empirical proof is shown, we blindly follow along and root for our team.
    I have already written of the Leafs, and the Blue Jays*, and am almost there with the Raptors.
    The only thing MLSE cares for is profits, not bringing a championship or even putting a contender on the floor. Bryan Colangelo cant scout or draft worth shit, he prefers to just trade away picks instead of home growing talent. All his picks so far have been seriously flawed. And hardly any of his trades have worked out for him
    I love the Raptors, but like all bad relationships, in order to be happy you got to break the cycle. This maybe harder than quitting smoking, but am ready to take my money and time elsewhere.
    Ill come back when the Raptors play defense, execute for 4 quarters.

    *Blue Jays sure look exciting with the trade. But guaranteed by the end of July there will be enough injuries, and games lost that they are out of the race.

    • WHAT THE

      i’m almost done with the rap,signing Fernadez and Belinili and then puting them in the starting line up with Val,Dribbles and AB13 would do it for me and mybe basketball in canada as Jack would say “get this sit outta here”

      • cesco

         Religious fanaticism and racial discrimination are for stupid , ignorant people , nothing worthwhile will ever come out of their mouth .

  • tdotgooner

    I liked this team coming out of the preseason and in fact i still think they are pretty good collection that should be able to get compete for a playoff spot in the east. But over the last few games, i think they’ve become frustrated and losing is starting (if it wasn’t already) become a habit and i believe they need a change for change sake. I say bryan should look into trying to what it would take to get amare out of NY. They’ve been playing excellent without him and i think they realize they don’t need him to be successful so now would be a good time to ask about him. I personally think the aggressiveness of amare would compliment lowry perfectly.

  • BlakeMurphy

    News, per multiple sources – Raps to sign Pietrus and waive McGuire. Cool…I guess? Yawn.

    • KaioKev

      Yawn. I guess so. I mean we can try it out, see what happens. I doubt we can get any worse right now. Its not a huge risk or anything. Yawn.

    • DC

      lmao….this is all BC can muster up after seeing this many team needs?

    • tmk

      Nothing special about Pietrus. I’ll say he’s more or less an Alan Anderson. He will provide nothing and will impact nothing. 

  • urdcklckrs

    What a bunch of woosified self dick lickers. No wonder teams from your area are always lame. Its the fans who infect the teams not the other way around. Believe that toronto chumps becaue its true true true.