Toronto Raptors battle back against Memphis Grizzlies for fifth straight win

By Don Wade, The Sports Xchange  |  Dec. 9, 2017 at 12:23 PM
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Down 17 points in the first half, the Toronto Raptors knew they had themselves in a tough spot.

"We were more frustrated that we let ourselves get down 17 points," said Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan, who scored 26 points with seven rebounds and six assists in a 116-107 win over the Memphis Grizzlies Friday night at FedExForum. "We kinda made the job harder on ourselves."

The Raptors cut the lead to five by halftime, fell behind by double digits again in the third quarter, but put the Memphis Grizzlies away in the fourth quarter.

"We've been OK on the road this year. We've been great (9-1) at home," DeRozan said. "We're trying to flip that and be great on the road as well. Being able to go on road and being down 17 and pull out a victory is big."

Toronto (16-7) won its fifth straight at the start of a four-game road trip. The Raptors' road record is now 7-6, but early on they made things difficult.

"Anytime you let a team shoot 70 percent (73.7) in the first quarter you're going to be in trouble, I don't care how good your offense is," said Raptors coach Dwane Casey.

Serge Ibaka scored 21 points and Kyle Lowry finished with 16 points, eight assists, six rebounds and two steals for the Raptors.

Memphis (8-17) carried a 93-92 advantage into the fourth quarter, but after a layup by Andrew Harrison (seven assists, six points) with 10:06 left, Memphis went 5:40 without a field goal.

Tyreke Evans led the Grizzlies with 27 points. Marc Gasol finished with 20 points, seven rebounds and four assists. Chandler Parsons had 15 points, four rebounds and two blocks off the bench.

The Raptors shot 47.4 percent from the floor and went 13 of 31 from 3-point range for 41.9 percent. Memphis shot 50 percent from the field while going 9 of 27 from distance for 33.3 percent.

"Defensively, for us, you can't give this team 41 fast-break points," Memphis interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. "That's where they thrive in the open court -- 17 turnovers led to 25 points for them."

Said Parsons: "We're kinda shooting ourselves in the foot, doing things we can control. Turning the ball over, giving them easy baskets. Things we work on every day and are not executing in the game. Not getting back in transition. It's frustrating, it's miserable and we gotta figure a way to get out of this."

The Raptors also got a lift from reserve guard Fred VanVleet. He finished with 12 points and three assists and made 3 of 6 shots from long range. He played all of the fourth quarter.

"That's the best part, end of the game with all the marbles on the line," VanVleet said. "As bad as I was in the first half, I was just happy to be on the floor at that point."

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Casey said VanVleet was a good matchup for a team such as Memphis: "He's a tough kid and against a team that's going to bump and hold you and not let your run your routes, he fits that because he doesn't allow it."

Memphis had endured an 11-game losing streak, beat Minnesota at home, but after losing at New York on Wednesday has now lost 13 of its last 14 games.

"I mean, we're human, we see the records, we have a brain," Parsons said when asked if it feels like the season is slipping away. "At the same time, we can't worry about that now. We still have 55, 60 games or whatever left. It's too early to start panicking, but it's tough."

NOTES: Toronto PG Kyle Lowry entered the game sixth in the NBA in assists with 7.1 per game. SG DeMar DeRozan was 15th in the league in scoring at 23.3 points per game. ... Memphis has added Greg Buckner as an assistant coach. Bucker worked with interim Grizzlies coach J.B. Bickerstaff when both were on the Houston Rockets' staff. "He understands the cheat codes and defensive development of young guys and can accelerate it with his knowledge," Bickerstaff said. ... During the second quarter, Grizzlies G Ben McLemore was alone on a fast break and attempted a 360-dunk that bounced high off the back iron and nearly went out of bounds. The Grizzlies led by 13 points at the time, but ultimately would lose 116-107. "We're not in a position to have those mental errors," Bickerstaff said. "We need two points as bad as anybody right now."... Memphis C Marc Gasol and G Tyreke Evans picked up technical fouls in the fourth quarter.

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