A Memphis three-point lead entering the fourth quarter served as a point of reference for a wheels-came-off loss to the Toronto Raptors at FedExForum Monday (Feb. 8).
The Grizzlies dragged a three-game losing streak into the contest, but could not hold a double-digit, third-quarter lead that gave way to a 128-113 setback and the Grizzlies’ fourth straight loss.
“We are a step or two behind, and teams are making us pay,” said Ja Morant, responding to why teams are playing better than the Grizzlies in the fourth quarter. “Teams just pick it up on their end and we have just got to want it more.”
With the loss, Memphis fell under .500 (9-10) after having won seven straight.
Head coach Taylor Jenkins said the Raptors (11-13) “took advantage of some pace. I thought they were in attack mode. We’ve struggled recently keeping guys in front of us and guarding one-on-one. I thought they did a great job getting downhill, creating a lot of looks in the paint and from the three-point line.”
Looking at the loss through the lens of the Grizzlies’ offense, Jenkins said, “…they started blitzing and we had some rough possessions, but I thought we also had some really good possessions and ball movement.
“We’ve just got to get a little bit better connected on our passes,” Jenkins said, “and then when we’re open, we had a lot of great looks, but we didn’t make the shots we needed to down the stretch to keep the game close.”
The Raptors opened the game with a 9-2 run, benefitting from three Grizzlies’ turnovers. Memphis bounced back, took a four-point lead twice in the quarter and trailed by a point (35-34) as the frame closed.
The Tigers rolled to a 10-4 run to end the second quarter and went into halftime with their largest lead of the game (70-63). Memphis extended the lead to 10 (75-65) after the halftime break. With 3:02 left in the third quarter, Raptors head coach Nick Nurse was ejected. After Grayson Allen sank the technical free throw for the Grizzlies, Memphis led 95-85.
That is when the wheels fell off.
The Raptors slammed the Grizzlies with a 29-5 run, and with 7:40 remaining, Memphis was buried 108-99. Pascal Siakam accounted for 10 of the points.
A trio of Toronto scorers – Siakam (32), Fred VanVleet (32) and Norman Powell (29) – were just too much for the Grizzlies. The Raptors made 20 three-point shots.
Desmond Bane finished with 13 points and connected on three of his seven attempts from beyond the three-point arc for the Grizzlies in his first start.
“I am grateful for the start. I wished I had taken care of the ball better and that I played better,” Bane said. “I slowed down and played to the rhythm of the game. I found out (about starting) this morning at shoot around today. I wished we could have come away with the win. This is something I will always remember.”
- Jonas Valanciunas led the way for the Grizzlies with 27 points and 20 rebounds. All the Memphis starters finished in double-digit scoring ⸺ Kyle Anderson (15), Dillon Brooks (22) and Ja Morant (18 points, nine assists).
- The Grizzlies’ Brandon Clarke missed his second consecutive game because of injury. DeAnthony Melton did not play after suffering a shoulder injury against New Orleans last week.
- The game was a reunion of sorts. Kyle Lowery and Yuta Wantanabe were former Memphis players.
- Next up for Memphis is a rematch against the Charlotte Hornets at FedExForum on Wednesday (Feb. 10). The Grizzlies defeated the Hornets (108-93) in their first matchup. Tipoff is at 7 p.m. CST.