Despite missing two key players, the Memphis Grizzlies managed
to remain competitive in losing to one of the perennial contenders
in the Western Conference the last time they took the court.
The Grizzlies might have a chance to improve their record over
the next few games beginning with a visit from the Toronto Raptors
on Friday night.
They might also get some help during that stretch with Zach
Randolph and Rudy Gay possibly returning from their injuries.
Randolph hasn’t been in the lineup for Memphis (24-17) since
tearing his right MCL during a 104-64 loss in Chicago on Jan. 1. He
said he hopes to return shortly and didn’t rule out playing in the
Grizzlies’ two games this weekend.
Memphis was also missing Gay, its top scorer, during a visit
from the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday. Gay was dealing with a mild
concussion that he suffered two days earlier during a 94-91 win in
Even with those two players out, the Grizzlies managed to take
the Lakers into double overtime before falling 116-111.
Marreese Speights, who has started during Randolph’s absence,
had a season-high 25 points and seven rebounds. Marc Gasol had 20
points and was one of six players in double figures.
“I’ve got no problem with my team. Our guys played hard. They
played with a lot of energy and a lot of heart. We lost to a team
that played better,” coach Lionel Hollins said. “We’ve got to give
them their due, and we’ve just got to get ready to come back on
Hollins’ team will begin a stretch of four consecutive games
against sub-.500 teams. That could help the Grizzlies bounce back
after losing two of three following an 11-2 stretch.
Memphis has won six straight over Toronto (14-29) and seven of
eight home meetings, including three in a row. The Grizzlies,
though, needed late baskets from Gay and Tony Allen to secure a
102-99 victory at the Air Canada Centre on March 2.
The Raptors scored one point over the final 1:06 of that defeat
and struggled throughout much of the second half during a 98-84
loss at New Jersey on Wednesday. Toronto was outscored 57-38 over
those final 24 minutes and made 12 of 35 shots (34.3 percent) to
finish at 38.3 percent.
Dwane Casey’s team was playing its fourth game in five days, but
he refused to use that as an excuse.
“We’re in the NBA and that is what we are paid to do, perform
each and every night. I just didn’t see that,” Casey said. “In the
first half we competed. We wanted to belong. In the second half we
didn’t meet their toughness.”
Each team won’t have one player on its roster following
Thursday’s trade deadline. The Raptors shipped guard Leandro
Barbosa to Indiana for a second-round pick and cash, while the
Grizzlies sent swingman Sam Young to Philadelphia for the draft
rights to Ricky Sanchez.
While they won’t have Young, they probably would like Randolph
back for this game. He’s averaged 25.5 points on 61.8 percent
shooting in two home matchups with Toronto over his three seasons
Gay, who reportedly practiced Thursday, has averaged 22.8 points
over his last four games against the Raptors.