“They weren’t going to let Rudy get going,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey said. “They were double-teaming him on pick-and-rolls, sending help quickly. They made it tough on him. I felt for him because I knew he wanted to do well. But every time, they were just rotating bodies against him. If he went into a pick-and-roll, here comes a crowd, here comes a blitz. It was one of those nights that he was probably going to have to be more of a facilitator than anything else.”
“The key is, it’s playoff basketball, the grinder kind of game — hold, grab, hit — and we didn’t do that in the first half,” said Casey. “Once we decided to do that we made the game competitive in the second half. You have to make your own hay by cutting hard, screening hard, making the extra pass. If you don’t, that team will put you in a bind and not let you out.”
Tenacity and grit. When the going went tough, Memphis really got going. They were tearing the ball out of the hands of our players and playing with the drive to win. You saw it when Zach Randolph rebounded the ball. You saw it when they got their steals.
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.
Tony Allen’s energy. It’s contagious, it’s a basketball nuclear detonation. He didn’t shoot as well as he has lately, but then again…no one did. Both teams under 38% for the game, and TA revels in a game like that. Strange matchups, microscopic lineups, none of this matters to TA. Swarming.
The Raptors scoring trio of DeRozan-Gay-Lowry went a combined 9-for-24 – partially due to strong Grizzlies defense and partially to their own poor offensive decisions. Coach Hollins knew how to play Rudy Gay and forced him into traffic with almost every possession. And we here at GBB know better than most: Rudy doesn’t pass the ball while in traffic.
Despite some wretched stretches, and there were many, especially in the opening half, the evening would turn dramatic, but it would end in defeat for the Raptors, dropping a 88-82 decision to the Grizzlies. Rudy Gay has had better nights, unable to find any rhythm against his former team, which denied him virtually everything.
In Raptorland, the biggest issue, at least among fans, is the fate of Andrea Bargnani. It says a lot about his appeal when Ed Davis, who was sacrificed as part of the Rudy Gay trade, does a warmer reception than Bargnani. From the moment he stepped on to the ACC floor, Bargnani looked completely out of sync, forcing his shot and missing often.
“Obviously, the trade was a surprise … I heard the rumours. I didn’t really think much of it. Especially because it was my first time being traded, I didn’t know what to expect,” Davis said, adding that it’s been tough not being around his best friend, DeMar DeRozan, all the time. They still text every day.
It’s tough to point to Lowry’s rough shooting night or Andrea Bargnani’s scoreless stat line when the entire team struggled so much offensively against the Grizzlies defence. Outside of that fourth quarter performance from Anderson, Amir Johnson was the lone Raptor to have a solid night offensively, finishing with 16 points. Of course, Zach Randolph finished with 17 points and 18 rebounds in a monster game for Memphis. What a team like the Grizzlies show is that if defence is the “bread and butter,” as Allen referred to it, even when things are stagnant offensively, you can still win the game. “They are the type of team that makes it tough for you,” Dwane Casey said.
The Raps couldn’t shoot to save their lives, but the home team still had a chance to steal a victory. Late in the game, behind an astonishing flurry of 3-balls from reserve swingman Alan Anderson, the Raps pulled into a 77-all tie. However, the Grizzlies decided to double-cover Anderson, and dared the rest of the Raps to score. They weren’t up to the task, particularly Rudy Gay. The only bright spot in the game’s last 4 minutes was a Kyle Lowry 4-point play (Anderson had one with 6 minutes to play, oddly enough). The offense seized up, and the Grizzlies chipped in enough points to pull away.
Playing against his former team for the first time served as a rude reminder to Gay of what he left behind. Memphis (35-18) is big and fast and athletic and, despite an off-shooting night, still had more than the Raptors (22-33) could handle, holding on for a 90-82 win at an energetic Air Canada Centre.
Believe it or not, but this is Gay’s seventh year in the NBA. It feels like he’s been here for the longest time, but the wing is a seasoned veteran who is still only 26 years old. He is also a player that has been a consistent closer for multiple years now. Switching up go-to guys halfway through the season is on the harder side of things to do. Nobody is saying that it isn’t. But doing such a thing will allow Casey to start to put a lineup on the floor that knows its roles and has a “consistent” idea of what to do.
Gay, who has been a spark for the Raptors, was held to 13 points and nine rebounds as the Raptors had a five-game winning streak snapped. Memphis has won five in a row. Mike Conley had 17 points, including a big 3-pointer late in the fourth quarter for Memphis. Tony Allen added 12 points with eight rebounds and Tayshaun Prince scored 11 points.
The first half was a measure of futility and defense, as the Grizzlies led the Raptors 43-32, while the teams were shooting .349 and .257 percent, respectively. The third continued much along the same lines with Memphis extending its lead to a game-high 13 points in the quarter for a 66-57 lead. However, the Raptors went on a 17-7 run in the fourth quarter to tie the game 77-77, behind Alan Anderson’s 14 points, shooting 4-for-4 from beyond the arc during that stretch.The Air Canada Centre had a distinct playoff feel, but the Grizzlies took the air out of Toronto’s sails with Conley’s 3-point basket with 1:57 left, making it 83-77.