MEMPHIS, Tenn. — After a stagnant quarter and a half, Zach Randolph and the Memphis Grizzlies finally woke up — just as he said they would.
Randolph scored 15 of his 21 points in the second half as Memphis overcame an early 12-point deficit to beat the short-handed Toronto Raptors 96-85 on Monday night.
Rudy Gay added 18 for Memphis, which won its second straight. Tony Allen had 14 points and a season-high six steals, part of 15 Memphis steals on the night. Allen also had eight rebounds, also a season high.
"Tony came in and brought the defensive effort," Gay said. "He got a lot of steals, and, of course, steals start fast breaks. When we have teams play on their heels like that, it’s easier for us to get into them."
Mike Conley and O.J. Mayo had 12 points apiece.
Linas Kleiza led the Raptors with 22 points on 10-of-16 shooting. DeMar DeRozan finished with 18 points. Jose Calderon had 13 and Leandro Barbosa scored 11.
Joey Dorsey finished with 10 points and 13 rebounds for the Raptors, who lost their third straight and fifth in the last six.
Dorsey said he had a feeling Randolph would awaken in the second half. In fact, the veteran warned Dorsey of that.
"The first half we had him scoreless, and he told me: ‘You know I’m coming at you every time I get the ball,"’ Dorsey said of the halftime chat between the two. "So, the second half he came at us. He did work."
Dorsey was in the starting lineup because the Raptors were without their leading scorer (Andrea Bargnani, 21.2 points), their leading rebounder (Reggie Evans, 12.1) and starter Sonny Weems. Add Peja Stojakovic to the wounded, and Toronto pieced together a squad with no player taller than six-foot-10 forward Ed Davis, except for seldom-used, 7-1 rookie Solomon Alabi.
The makeshift lineup helped contribute to a season-high 25 Toronto turnovers.
"The offence is just out of sync when you are missing your main guy and everything went through him before," Kleiza said of Bargnani, who was nursing a strained left calf. "You’re trying to figure out how to play without him, and maybe that’s why we had so many turnovers."
Toronto, which hadn’t played since Wednesday, looked fresher early than the Grizzlies, who won in Indianapolis on Sunday night. While Toronto couldn’t maintain its early shooting accuracy, the Raptors had more energy than Memphis, building a 12-point lead in the first quarter.
The Grizzlies, who lead the league in forced turnovers at 17.3 per game, finally got going behind their defence, forcing Toronto miscues that led to fast-break baskets in the second quarter. That fuelled a 16-3 run that erased the Toronto lead.
"They picked up their intensity after the first quarter," Raptors coach Jay Triano said. "They forced some deflections and got us some more turnovers."
The rally helped Memphis carry a 48-44 lead into the locker room after Calderon’s three-pointer as the horn sounded.
Memphis’ lead reached double digits before three minutes were gone in the second half. Randolph, who was held to six points at the break, added eight points during the opening minutes of the third quarter, living up to his halftime promise to Dorsey.
"Zach, coming down the stretch was outstanding," Memphis coach Lionel Hollins said. "We played off Zach very well, and everybody was playing their role, and doing what they needed to do."
The Grizzlies outscored the Raptors 32-20 in the second period and 29-19 in the third to carry a 77-63 lead into the final period.
The lead was 16 early in the fourth before the Raptors got within 83-77 near the midway point of the period. Consecutive baskets by Randolph extended the margin back to double digits, part of a 12-2 run that put the game out of reach.
Allen said the play in the last two wins over Indiana and Toronto is a matter of playing team ball and understanding that defence is the key for Memphis to get out on the break.
"We’ve got to be able to do it consistently," Allen said. "We get these teams that we’re supposed to beat, and we tend to go to our individual thing.
"We have to keep the mindset that we’re a team, play inside-out basketball, and that’s how we’re going to win."
NOTES: Evidence of how bad the Raptors’ injury situation has been: Only Amir Johnson and DeMar DeRozan have played in all 13 games in December. Dorsey played collegiately at the University of Memphis and still gets a warm welcome when he returns, earning a rousing cheer when he was announced in the starting lineup. It was Dorsey’s second start of the season. Toronto has not won in five road games against the Western Conference. Sam Young started at G for Memphis, replacing rookie Xavier Henry, who is dealing with some knee issues. Henry was active for the game, but did not play. Gay had five steals, matching his career high. He also had five against the Pacers on Sunday night.