The Toronto Raptors difficulties at the Scotiabank Arena continued on Tuesday evening as they fell 98-91 to the Memphis Grizzlies.
The loss moves the Raptors to an abysmal 2-8 at home, and marks their third consecutive defeat, dropping them to 9-13 on the season.
It was another slow offensive start for Toronto in this one, with only 18 points in the first quarter and a barrage of missed open looks. The Grizzlies defence was solid, but there were opportunities to find open shooters almost every possession, and yet the Raptors looked disjointed and flustered. The second quarter was better, but the Raptors trailed by 11 heading into the half, and looked like the far weaker team. A third quarter comeback led by Pascal Siakam brought them back in it, but they were unable to bring the game back level, and the Grizzlies led by a fired-up Dillon Brooks put the game away in the fourth.
The Raptors were dragged along by Siakam on an offensive night that was rough across the board. Siakam scored 20 on 9/19 from the floor, alongside 6 rebounds and 5 assists. Scottie Barnes, a rare bright spot, stuffed the stat sheet in the loss, finishing with 19 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals and 4 blocks in 38 minutes of action. VanVleet had a decent showing with 15 points and 9 rebounds, and Yuta Watanabe was the lone bright spot off of the bench, scoring 11 points on 4/9 from the floor with 6 rebounds.
Jaren Jackson Jr. led the way for Memphis, scoring an easy 25 points at an 8/14 clip, on a Raptors defence that put up little resistance. The Canadian Brooks, shot a measly 5/18 from the floor, but he was an absolute pest on defence, and brought the intensity in his Toronto homecoming. Desmond Bane was on fire all night, shooting 50% in 16 attempts, good enough for 23 points, and he pitched in with 7 boards as well. Steven Adams only finished with 4 points, but the box score doesn’t do his performance justice, as he terrorized the Raptors bigs all game long.
The lack of size on the inside was once again an issue for Toronto. Jackson Jr and to a greater extent Adams were able to eat on the glass and in the paint, and with Khem Birch sidelined the Raptors had nothing they could throw back at them.
Canadian Chris Boucher was better in this one, but his recent play has led to a sharp decrease in playing time, and he only saw 7 minutes of action in the loss. He recorded 2 blocks in his short stint, and was more aggressive towards the basket, but like always, the lack of strength is an issue when it comes to defending bigger centers.
The loss continues the Raptors free fall down the Eastern Conference standings, as they now find themselves 2.5 games out of a play-in tournament spot. The loss of OG Anunoby has hurt them, but the absence of Khem Birch has been even more telling, visibly showing the need for a 7-footer on this roster if it wasn’t clear enough already.
Things don’t get easier on Thursday as the Raptors host the reigning champion Bucks, while the Grizzlies will return home to take on the Thunder on the same night.
Siakam – 20 PTS 6 REB 5 AST
Barnes – 19 PTS 7 REB 3 AST
Watanabe – 11 PTS 6 REB 0 AST
Jackson Jr. – 25 PTS 6 REB 1 AST
Bane – 23 PTS 7 REB 2 AST
Brooks – 17 PTS 4 REB 1 AST