Usually, a Grizzlies-Raptors game following All-Star weekend doesn't mean much. But after the blog-shattering trade that sent Rudy Gay to Toronto, this game snagged more meaning. Seeing Rudy playing against the guys in blue rather than for the guys in blue - what's not attractive about this if you're a Grizz fan?
With the trade, the off-court interactions can't be ignored. From what I could tell, Rudy and the rest of his former gang were all smiles. There was friendly conversation and playful banter before and after the game. The whole "Rudy is bitter towards Memphis" and "Rudy raggin' on TA" stuff wasn't seen. Dare I say it: is sports media blowing things out of proportion?
On the other side of the ball, Ed Davis received a standard ovation before and during the game when he stepped onto the court for the first time. The ovation tells us two things: (1) Toronto fans are classy. The way they perceive ownership, the team, and the trade showed itself in their ovation. Basketball fans should give them more respect - there's a reason they're consistently listed as one of NBA's best fanbases. (2) Ed Davis is more valuable than we are recognizing. Fans in Toronto saw potential in him. Personally, I've always liked him, but now I am liking the idea of his future in blue a bit more.
The first quarter was an absolute disaster. Both sides were physical, and ZBo looked especially sloppy. Darrell Arthur was successful in getting open looks to be a semi-outside threat and Mike Conley's ability to space the floor shouldn't go unnoticed. He looked like a mature point guard.
Our defense, as usual, looked formidable. The Raptors were held to 14 points for the quarter, and at one point were shooting 4% (yes, four percent). And, as usual, with great defense comes dismal offense. There were too many missed layups and "blown calls."
Coach Hollins went with an interesting lineup to begin the second quarter: Bayless/Wroten/Pondexter/Arthur/Davis. And you know what? Somehow it worked. Tony Wroten actually saw solid playtime (#FreeWroten!), snagged a couple of slick-looking assists and three-point shots. Randolph turned it on and went into halftime with 8 points and 8 rebounds.
Not much improved in the second half until things got interesting in the fourth quarter when the Raptors came to within three points with unthinkable three-point shots. Alan Anderson turned it on and went insane with 17 points in the fourth quarter. The Raptors, as a team, kept chucking up the three point shots that found their way into the basket. Rudy Gay had a couple of banked three's. I buried my head in the pillow too many times.
In the end, though, we got the win, even if we didn't score above 90 points. Rudy Gay, who was defended in the combined efforts of Tayshaun Prince and Tony Allen, went 5-15 shooting with 13 points and 9 rebounds.
I'm glad we're not giving those numbers a max contract anymore.
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.
An ugly win is better than a pretty loss, so I'll take it - the Grizzlies improve to a 35-18 record and remain fourth in the Western Conference. But we can't expect to keep playing this way and remain competitive.
Thanks for hanging out on the GameThread tonight. Made for a good time.
Next 5 Games
|Orlando||Fri 02/22||7:00 PM CST|
|@ Brooklyn||Sun 02/24||6:00 PM CST|
|Dallas||Wed 02/27||7:00 PM CST|
|@ Miami||Fri 03/01||7:00 PM CST|
|@ Orlando||Sun 03/03||5:00 PM CST|
Last 5 Games
|@ Toronto||Wed 02/20||W 88 - 82|
|@ Detroit||Tue 02/19||W 105 - 91|
|Sacramento||Tue 02/12||W 108 - 101|
|Minnesota||Sun 02/10||W 105 - 88|
|Golden State||Fri 02/08||W 99 - 93|