The Toronto Raptors got back into the win column on Wednesday night with a come from behind road win against the Memphis Grizzlies, 126-113.
The win concludes the Raptors first western road trip of the year, although they will fly east to Indiana next for their sixth straight road game.
Much like in several of their recent outings, the Raptors struggled defensively in the first half, allowing Ja Morant and company to control the pace and find open looks. Toronto’s offence woke up a bit in the second quarter, but the Grizzlies were still able to take a 12-point lead into halftime. The Raptors team that came out for the second half was a different animal, initially led by Precious Achiuwa. It was the kind of performance that Raptors fans had been waiting on from Achiuwa, and he delivered in a big way, scoring 17 points in the third and cutting the Grizzlies lead to 1. Gary Trent Jr. took over from there, dominating the fourth including three massive triples, giving Toronto a lead that they wouldn’t cough back up. After a complete team effort to close it out, the Raptors walked away with an impressive 13-point road win against a formidable opponent.
It was a balanced attack for the Raptors, but Trent Jr. led the way with 26 points and 4 assists. His backcourt partner Fred VanVleet had a big game as well, scoring 23 points on an efficient 9/14 from the floor, alongside 6 rebounds and 7 assists. The remaining three Raptors starters (Siakam, Achiuwa, Barnes), all finished with 17 points, capping off an incredible night for Toronto’s starting unit. The bench was fairly quiet, but the Raptors got solid shifts out of Svi Mykhailiuk, Dalano Banton and Malachi Flynn, while also welcoming Yuta Watanabe back into the fold through 14 minutes of action, where he recorded 3 rebounds, 2 steals and 2 blocks.
The Grizzlies were led by usual suspect Morant, who finished with 23 points, 6 rebounds and 9 assists in the loss. Desmond Bane shot an impressive 7/11 for 20 points, and Canadian Dillon Brooks scored 20 points in just 26 minutes. Forward Jaren Jackson Jr. shot an efficient 6/8 from the floor for 16 points. Canadian Brandon Clarke and Kyle Anderson were the two biggest contributors for the Grizzlies off the bench, scoring 16 and 11 points respectively on very efficient numbers.
The Raptors second half surge was mainly sparked by outside shooting, as they began to catch fire through their backcourt specifically, and it eventually extended to the entire team. The Raptors shot 46.7% from deep compared to 31% for Memphis, and that advantage went a long way in determining the result.
The Raptors will have to be happy with what they saw from Achiuwa and Watanabe, as Watanabe in particular is jumping right back into full speed action. Achiuwa minimized the loss of missing OG Anunoby, but will need to string multiple performances together like this one in order to be fully reintroduced to the starting lineup, especially when Anunoby eventually returns.
The win takes the Raptors to 9-10, which isn’t bad considering the tough stretch of games they’ve just faced. A western conference road trip (2-3 record) can often break a struggling team, but the Raptors have managed to hold it together despite injury, and that says a lot about the way Nick Nurse has his team prepared to play.
The Raptors will look to get back to .500 on Friday night in Indiana, while the 9-9 Grizzlies will play host to the Hawks on the same night.
VanVleet – 23 PTS 6 REB 7 AST
Trent Jr. – 26 PTS 1 REB 4 AST
Barnes – 17 PTS 9 REB 3 AST
Morant – 23 PTS 6 REB 9 AST
Brooks – 20 PTS 2 REB 3 AST
Bane – 20 PTS 4 REB 1 AST