MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Memphis Grizzlies turned up the defensive pressure, and turned a close game into a rout.
The Grizzlies held Toronto to 31 percent shooting and forced 11 turnovers in the second half to pull away and beat the Raptors 103-82 on Wednesday night for their third straight win.
“Our defense was overwhelming in the third quarter. It was just outstanding,” Memphis coach Lionel Hollins said. “We just came out with a mindset that was committed to playing defense.”
Marreese Speights had 18 points and 12 rebounds for Memphis. Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph finished with 17 points apiece, Randolph adding 13 rebounds and six assists. Mike Conley had 16 points, going 4 of 5 on 3-pointers, and Rudy Gay added 14 as Memphis maintained the best record in the NBA (11-2).
For Speights, it was redemption for a spotty start to the season. He entered the game averaging 6.1 points and 4.3 rebounds, while shooting less than 38 percent. He finished Wednesday’s game connecting on 7 of 11 shots, including his only attempt outside the arc. Hollins cited a change in Speights’ mentality before the game, going back to Tuesday’s practice.
“I just went out there with the confidence I used to have,” Speights said. “In the past, I lost a lot of confidence knowing that certain things weren’t going my way. (I know) I’ve got to be a professional and go hard in practice and every time I’m on the court that Coach gives me an opportunity.”
DeMar DeRozan led the Raptors with 16 points, while Kyle Lowry and Jose Calderon scored 12 apiece. Linas Kleiza added 11 points, but was 5 of 15 from the field, as Toronto lost its sixth straight.
The Raptors played without Andrea Bargnani, their second-leading scorer, who sat out after hurting his left ankle in Tuesday night’s loss at Houston.
Memphis dominated the points in the paint 46-32 and held a 46-33 advantage on the boards, including 12-7 off the offensive glass, leading to 16 second-chance points.
“It hurts, but it’s supposed to hurt when you get spanked like that,” Toronto coach Dwane Casey said.
The Grizzlies led 48-47 at the break in a half that saw 14 lead changes and six ties. The Grizzlies had an early nine-point lead, but from there it was closely played.
“If we only played the second half good, we would be in good shape,” Casey said.
Conley had 10 points for Memphis, going 3 of 4 outside the arc in the first half.
Kleiza already had 11 points for Toronto, but it took him 13 shots to connect on five. He was taking the bulk of the shots as DeRozan and Lowry, Toronto’s two leading scorers with Bargnani out, combined for only 4 of 7 shots in the first half.
Otherwise, most of the team stats were close, representing the first half.
“We told our guys at halftime that they were going to turn up the juice,” Casey said of the Grizzlies. “Now, you’ve got to meet their toughness with our toughness.”
The Raptors weren’t able to match that intensity, and Memphis turned the game around in the third. The Grizzlies put together an 11-1 run to open its first double-digit lead of the game. Then they continued to turn up the defense.
Tony Allen blocked DeRozan and grabbed the ball, then finished the break with a dunk. That put Memphis up 70-53.
Memphis eventually forced seven turnovers in the period and outscored Toronto 33-14, carrying an 81-61 lead into the fourth. The Raptors were only 4 of 17 from field in the third, while Memphis connected on 72 percent in the stanza.
“Coach calmly came in (at halftime) and said they were outworking us, and we needed to step up our intensity,” Conley said “That’s what we did in the third quarter, defensively, more than anything.”
After that, the most excitement came with 3:37 left when Quincy Acy was called for a flagrant foul on Gay, who took exception to the play. Acy and Gay also got technicals.
DeRozan said the Raptors have to understand as a team that opponents are trying to turn up the intensity on them, particularly after halftime. The third-quarter collapse was indicative of the team’s problems.
“We have to look at it now and be sick and tired of losing coming out of the second half,” DeRozan said. “We have to realize that and understand that we are doing it to ourselves. We have to man up in the second half and jump on other teams.”
NOTES: Lowry was Memphis’ first-round pick in the 2006 draft. . Allen limped to the bench late in the third period but returned in the fourth. . Randolph had his 12th double-double in 13 games this season. . Memphis F Darrell Arthur sat out with a sore knee. Grizzlies officials said it was precautionary. .The Raptors are now 1-9 on the road. .The 21-point margin is the largest of the season for Memphis. .Raptors F Ed Davis started his first game of the season and scored 10 points and grabbed six rebounds, team-high for Toronto.