Mike Conley’s return wasn’t enough to lead the Memphis Grizzlies to another win in their latest game, but they might have a better showing against the Toronto Raptors with a healthier rotation.
The Grizzlies were missing a bevy of players in the first meeting, and the Raptors were performing at a much higher level at that time compared to how they enter the rematch Wednesday night in Memphis.
Conley scored a team-best 22 points Monday against Dallas after missing back-to-back games because of injured ankles, but Memphis (29-12) faltered down the stretch in a 103-95 home loss. The Grizzlies allowed the Mavericks to score 14 of the final 18 points and had a four-game win streak snapped.
They also had one of their worst showings from 3-point range, missing 19 of 22, and have converted at 25.0 percent there in the last four games. Conley and Courtney Lee accounted for 11 of Monday’s misses.
"There’s going to be ups and downs," Lee said. "We’ve just had a couple of games where we haven’t been making as many 3s as we’ve been making throughout the year. We can’t get down on that. It’s a long season. There are a lot of games left."
Lee was among five Grizzlies who sat out in Toronto on Nov. 19 because of a stomach virus, but Memphis still had a competitive performance in a 96-92 loss. Perhaps showing some fatigue because of those absences, the Grizzlies allowed the Raptors to score 11 of the game’s final 13 points. Conley and Marc Gasol played their most minutes for any non-overtime game this season.
Whereas Toronto was amid a 13-2 start for the first matchup, the Atlantic Division leaders head into this game having lost seven of 10. The Raptors (27-14), though, snapped a season-worst, three-game road losing streak with a 92-89 win over Milwaukee on Monday.
"We don’t give up, no matter what the situation is or how we’re playing right now," forward Patrick Patterson said. "We have great leaders on this team. … We have great veteran players, great team chemistry so no one gets down even though we may be losing. Everyone may be frustrated, but we still believe in ourselves."
Terrence Ross came off the bench for first time in his past 103 games, providing two key baskets in the final 30 seconds and finishing with 16 points after averaging 5.3 in his prior seven contests.
DeMar DeRozan was held scoreless for the fifth time in his career after averaging 22.3 points in his first three games back from a torn tendon in his left groin.
"I thought his legs were a little shot from coming back and being out so long," coach Dwane Casey said.
Toronto’s other top scorer has been off for a while, one reason the team has stumbled. Kyle Lowry has hit 35.1 percent from the field in the new year and is 1 of 18 from 3-point range in the last three games. He has not reached 20 points in six consecutive games after previously failing to do so in no more than three straight.
Lowry has averaged 20.3 points during Toronto’s current three-game win streak over Memphis. DeRozan’s 21 led the way in the November win.
The Grizzlies lost despite dominating the paint with Gasol and Zach Randolph combining for 40 points and 30 rebounds. Gasol had averaged 10.3 points on 32.4 percent shooting and 5.3 boards in the prior three matchups.