DeRozan out again as Raptors face Grizzlies (Jan 25, 2017)
The Toronto Raptors nearly survived DeMar DeRozan's absence on Tuesday.
Now the Raptors will attempt to get by without DeRozan again in the toughest of scenarios -- the second night of a back-to-back on the road.
Their opponent Wednesday will be the Memphis Grizzlies, who are returning to the court after three days off.
DeRozan will be re-evaluated later this week, and the Raptors play three home games after returning from Memphis. He was injured Sunday in a 115-103 loss to the Phoenix Suns, but the good news was DeRozan was not wearing a walking boot during practice Monday.
"Everybody's in panic mode right now," Toronto coach Dwane Casey said Monday. "It's not time to panic. We're going through a tough time. It's how you come out of it."
Toronto nearly prevailed without DeRozan on Tuesday, falling 108-106 to the San Antonio Spurs when Norman Powell missed a long 3-pointer at the buzzer. Powell scored 16 points in place of DeRozan, while Kyle Lowry led the Raptors with 30 points.
"We played harder (in the second half)," Lowry said after Toronto held San Antonio to 47 points and 34.9 percent shooting in the second half. "We went out there and competed and played a lot harder than we did in the first half. We made some more shots, and we made some more plays defensively."
Lowry recorded his fifth 30-point game but also played more than 40 minutes for the 11th time this season. Lowry has not played 40-plus minutes in consecutive nights this season. On the second night of back-to-backs, he is averaging 22 points in 37.8 minutes while shooting 45.5 percent.
None of those second nights featured the Raptors on a four-game losing streak, which is their first since March 4-10, 2015. Toronto's last five-game skid was Feb. 21-28, 2015, and it was part of a 1-9 stretch.
Toronto's streak is part of extended slump that started with a 121-111 loss in Golden State on Dec. 28. Since then, the Raptors are 6-9 and allowing 109.1 points per game, 46.8 percent shooting and 40.4 percent from 3-point range to go along with a 109.2 defensive rating.
Memphis is among the best teams in scoring defense but is 4-6 in its last 10 games with a defense that allowed more than 100 points eight times. The Grizzlies are 9-16 when giving up 100-plus points.
The latest instance was a 119-95 home loss to the Houston Rockets on Saturday. It was the Grizzlies' second-highest point total allowed and their second-widest margin of defeat this season.
The Grizzlies, who saw the Rockets shoot 51.3 percent, are 1-9 when allowing opponents to make at least half of their shots. Memphis also allowed 16 3-pointers, equaling its third-highest total this season.
"Not enough communication defensively," Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley said. "We got our coverages mixed up a few times and it got in our heads."
Memphis faced the same situation as Toronto on Saturday with the second night of a back-to-back. The only difference was the Grizzlies were at home, and they allowed 30 points to Houston's Sam Dekker.
"We had no answer for the pick-and-roll," Memphis coach David Fizdale said. "We didn't have any gas in the tank tonight. You're going to lose games big sometimes, but we have to keep being mentally tough and having better body language and better connection."
Marc Gasol scored 32 points, but the Grizzlies shot 37.1 percent and misfired on 25 of 34 3-point attempts.
Now the Grizzlies will play after having three days off, which might not be as good as it seems. Memphis is 0-7 this season when there are at least two days in between games, mostly because its defense is allowing 107.8 points in those contests.
The Grizzlies have dropped six of their last seven meetings to the Raptors. Their 120-105 setback in Toronto on Nov. 30 was similar to Saturday's loss to Houston as Memphis set a season high in points allowed and equaled its highest opponents' shooting rate at 55.1 percent.
Lowry scored 29 and DeRozan added 24 and the Raptors posted their most points in any game against the Grizzlies and finished with their highest shooting percentage in the series.