There was plenty to look forward going into this one: a chance to embarrass Rudy “more-shots-than-points” Gay, an opportunity to rediscover the Golden State rhythm at home, and the likelihood that Memphis would continue its Win-Loss-Win-Loss pattern at the very least. It was not so. The Grizzlies dug yet another 10-point hole in just 10 minutes and played from behind for most of the night. A promising second quarter ended with a discouraging 11-point half-time deficit. Mike Conley opened an impressive second half with two triples to pull the Grizz closer, but Toronto continued to build double-digit leads until finally running away with it in the 4th quarter. 103-87 was the final; Rudy Gay had a happy homecoming with a 23-6-4-5 line, and Conley, just two points away from matching a career high with 29, will be wondering where the rest of his team was.
Memphis is now 3-5, and in every loss this year they have trailed by 21 points or more. That’s why it feels like 3-10. The intensity was simply not there tonight, and has been missing for some time. And the fans know when they’re watching low-effort basketball:
Fans are booing, but they’re not booing Rudy Gay. Raptors lead, 30-20.
— Geoff Calkins (@geoff_calkins) November 14, 2013
Defense: The Grizz seemed intent on helping and doubling early on, but Toronto, and DeRozan in particular, was happy to take open shots on a 46% shooting night. (The team averages 41%.) They hit 7 threes in the first half — Rudy was 4 of 5. Why the Grizz were reluctant to play tight man coverage is beyond me: the defense looked tied up underneath and Toronto’s long shots were creating long, offensive rebounds and second-chance points. Memphis should have dominated the glass, but were only +3. The help defense also didn’t really create turnovers: Rudy fumbled at least three times in one-on-one situations. On the plus side, the Raptors got just 24 points in the paint, but that’s expected from a team whose talent is on the wings. On the minus side, the Grizz gave up 100 points for the fourth time this year.
Confusing rotations: The starters got the quick hook again after another slow start, but I have to question why Joerger is still “searching” for match-ups during games rather than letting proven lineups gel. Jamaal Franklin came in with 2 minutes left in the 1st quarter, and was put on DeMar DeRozan, who had 11 already. He immediately shot over Franklin to make it 13. Marc was spelled by Koufos early in the first, but his presence in the lane with Zach Randolph complicated the spacing on offense. Koufos almost did not return in the 2nd half, even when Marc had 4 fouls. Bayless played the point for just 2 minutes in the first half before being replaced by Calathes, who looked as lost as he did in game 1, trying soft inside-out passes that just won’t work in the NBA. Eleven different Grizzlies had played by the second quarter, racking up 7 early turnovers. To his credit, Ed Davis played a solid second quarter, blocking shots, scoring, and even assisting. His energy helped close the gap briefly but Z-Bo returned for the final few minutes, during which Toronto built an 11-point lead.
The really frustrating part came in the 3rd quarter, after Memphis tied the game at 70 and things were finally looking up. Miller and Davis subbed in for Allen and Randolph, and Toronto went on a 20-3 run. They outscored the Grizzlies 33-17 from then on, leaving nothing to be salvaged by the starters. Davis played 23 minutes and was only productive for about 5 of them.
2nd half pre-Ed Davis: Grizzlies 26, Raptors 15 2nd half post-Ed Davis: Grizzlies 17, Raptors 33
— Peter Edmiston (@peteredmiston) November 14, 2013
Turnovers: 19 turnovers led to 19 points, but mercifully few of them came on lazy passes (I saw only 2). Tonight was more of a melange of offensive fouls, shot clock violations, and Tony Allen dribbling. When the Grizz are trailing, which has been happening a lot lately, the focus should really be on taking any shot that’s open and hustling for the offensive rebound. Wasted possessions are a back breaker when playing from behind, especially if the other team capitalizes.
Free throw disparity: Joerger earned his first tech as head coach complaining — in the first half — about the uneven officiating. He might should have saved that bullet for later, as Toronto finished with 35 attempts to Memphis’ 15 (of which we missed 5, because free points… meh!). The refs also called a shot clock violation after Tony Allen’s layup blatantly hit the rim, taking away his putback without so much a nod toward the monitor. I would actually like to thank the officials for taking some of the fan’s anger away from the Grizzlies themselves in that moment. This is the second game recently in which the Grizzlies get foul prone in garbage time. They aren’t really well-intentioned fouls, either — taps on the arm, that sort of thing.
Rudy Gay: Reportedly shouted “Did you miss this?” to the front row after making a mid-range jumper late. Nope, we’re good!
In Other News: Tony Wroten had a triple double for Philadelphia, helping down the Rockets in overtime.
The Grizzlies start a 4-game road trip in Los Angeles on Friday against the Lakers: tip is at 9:30 p.m. CT.