Raptors-Grizzlies Preview

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

in Memphis.

Gay, who reportedly practiced Thursday, has averaged 22.8 points

over his last four games against the Raptors.