The Memphis Grizzlies got the best of Rudy Gay and the Toronto Raptors in Gay’s first meeting with his former team. In a grind-it-out 88-82 victory, the Grizzlies withstood a late push to outlast the Raptors and snap their five-game winning streak. It was an ugly game. A back-to-back for both teams, neither shot better than 36 per cent from the floor. Still, the Grizzlies controlled the tempo and pace from the opening tip.
“In the first half, we just weren’t there,” Gay said. “I don’t know what it was, the schedule, the travel, I just don’t know. We just weren’t there mentally. In the second half we revved it up, but with a team like that you can’t pick it up in the second half and expect to win.”
After a slow start by both teams, Memphis went into the half ahead by 11 and kept the distance until the fourth quarter, when Alan Anderson came alive. Coming into the quarter with four points, Anderson reeled off 15 straight points for the Raptors, cutting the Grizzlies’ lead to three. Memphis would respond to go back up by seven with less than a minute remaining, but Kyle Lowry kept things interesting by hitting a three-pointer while being fouled. The four-point play trimmed the deficit to three, but with 20.6 seconds remaining and the Grizzlies in possession of the ball, Memphis was able to collect their 35th with of the season.
It wasn’t a great showing for Gay against his former team as he finished with 13 points on 5-for-15 shooting. While he had nine rebounds, he also turned the ball over five times. Gay wasn’t the only player who struggled to score against the Grizzlies. Thanks to Tony Allen’s smothering defence, DeMar DeRozan connected on just one of his nine attempts from the floor.
After Gay’s first game as a Raptor, he called DeRozan the best guard he had ever played with. It didn’t take long for Gay’s words to get back to Allen and he used those words for motivation. “I was fired up from those comments,” he said. “I told him (Gay) I heard those comments and he started laughing. He said he had to pump up his young boy, so that’s what it was. It’s still love. No hard feelings. I’m always up for a challenge.”
Ed Davis returns to Toronto
Prior to the game, Davis spoke with Toronto reporters admitting that the trade was tough on him and that would be strange to face his former team, especially DeMar DeRozan who he called his best friend. He said the two still talk or text every day. When Davis checked into the game midway through the second quarter, he received a warm ovation from the crowd. It was clear he appreciated the warm reception from the crowd. “Every night I was here I tried to play hard and always be a team player. Never complain, never be late, never miss anything. I knew I always did the right thing when I was there. I did everything I could do. I worked hard whenever I was on the floor. It’s great to know that the fans respect that and they showed their appreciation.”
Davis not the only ex-Raptor happy to get a win on the ACC floor
While the game marked the first return for Davis to the ACC since being traded to Memphis, Jerryd Bayless was also happy to get a victory against his former team. Allen talked about the role Davis has played for the Grizzlies since the move, while also explaining the added motivation that comes from facing your former team. “I know it wasn’t no better feeling (for Davis) then coming in here and getting a win,” Allen said. “Jerryd Bayless was talking about it all day, coming in here and getting a win. He actually pumped me up today.”
A team struggle
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.
“This is the way you have to play and no one is going to feel sorry for you. It is about being tough, being strong with the ball and making good decisions.”
The Grizzlies came out ready. The Raptors showed up in the second half.