Gay’s 23 leads Raptors past Grizzlies 103-87

Rudy Gay’s return to Memphis was quite successful, not only for
him personally, but for his Toronto teammates.

Gay, making his first appearance in Memphis since the Grizzlies
traded him to Toronto on Jan. 30, scored 23 points, Kyle Lowry
added 21 and the Raptors beat the Memphis Grizzlies 103-87 on
Wednesday night.

Gay, who spent his first 6-plus years in the league with
Memphis, acknowledged he almost instinctively went to the home
dressing room when he entered the FedExForum. But he somewhat
downplayed the return and whether his teammates were concentrating
on him having a good game.

”I don’t think it was for me as much as we needed any win,”
Gay said. ”Obviously, you want to win every game, but for me
personally, it was more emotional.”

DeMar DeRozan, who scored 13 of his 18 points in the first
quarter, said they were aware of the importance of Gay’s
performance in his return.

”He’s definitely one of our go-to guys, so no matter if we were
playing anybody, we’re going to get him the ball and make sure he
gets going,” DeRozan said before adding, ”It was just extra
emotion for him coming back here the first time.”

The Raptors ball movement was much better than Monday’s double
overtime 110-104 loss to Houston, when Toronto had only 10 assists
from taking 114 shots. Against the Grizzlies, Toronto had 14
assists, led by Kyle Lowry’s six. Gay and DeRozan had four assists
each.

Mike Conley led Memphis with a season-high 29 points. Marc Gasol
had 18 points while Zach Randolph and Tony Allen finished with 10
points apiece. Gasol and Randolph grabbed 10 rebounds each.

Memphis outrebounded the Raptors 40-37 and led the points in the
paint 36-24. But the 8 of 15 from outside the arc for Toronto, plus
hitting 33 of 39 free throws compared to 11 of 17 for Memphis gave
the Raptors the advantage.

”I thought we were aggressive going to the basket and to the
free throw line, which is huge for us,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey
said. ”Most of all we shared the ball.”

While Gay’s return was successful, Memphis continues to struggle
in finding its identity under Dave Joerger, its new coach. Four of
the five Grizzlies losses have been by double digits and the
defense that was Memphis’ calling card in recent years and helped
the team reach the Western Conference Finals last year is not as
evident.

”We have been a team that has been very resilient in the
past,” Joerger said. ”You have to be able to take the hit and
keep coming. We will get there. We will be alright. There is
definitely a level of frustration that we aren’t playing hard
enough.”

The Raptors lead by as many as 15 in the first half before
carrying a 55-44 halftime advantage. The Raptors hit 7 of 9 shots
outside the arc before the break.

Conley got Memphis untracked early in the third scoring 10 early
points to key a Memphis run. The Grizzlies eventually pulled even
at 70 on a steal and layup by Conley, but the Raptors closed the
period on an 8-1 rally for a 78-71 lead after three.

”We just buckled down,” DeRozan said. ”We understood they
were going to throw a fight. They weren’t going to lay down. We
understood that, and we knew it was coming. We held our own and
pushed back at them.”

The Raptors extended that lead to 88-74 with a 10-3 run opening
the fourth quarter. Memphis’ 16th turnover led to a dunk by
Terrence Ross, and Grizzlies Joerger called timeout. It didn’t do
much good because the Raptors would hit two more baskets before
Mike Miller’s 3-pointer stopped the run.

When Gay’s 19-footer ran the score to 96-77 Raptors, the Memphis
crowd began to boo.

NOTES: Gay is still the career leader in games played and ranks
second in points and field goals made for the Grizzlies. … A lot
was made of Gay’s return, but Austin Daye, who played with Memphis
last season after the Gay trade, and Lowry, who started his career
in Memphis, are part of Grizzlies history. … Memphis G Jerryd
Bayless returned to action after missing two games with a right
knee sprain. Memphis F/G Quincy Pondexter missed the game
recovering from a broken nose. … The loss was the second
consecutive for the Grizzlies. Memphis had alternated wins and
losses through the first seven games of the season.