February 20, 2013 by slewfeet
I’ve just turned on the game, and the quartet of DeRozan, Lowry, Gay and Bargnani are already shooting a combined 0-15, while Randolph and Gasol on the Grizzlies are inexplicably 0-8. Jerryd Bayless, who is so bad at basketball that not even the Toronto Raptors wanted him, is one of the game’s top scorers. What kind of contest have I just checked into? I keep on looking up and expecting all the players to be wearing clown shoes.
Of course, this game has been highly anticipated for a while now as the battle of the Quincys between Acy and Pondexter, a narrative that has been building up ever since the Nuggets game, in which Acy matched up against Quincy Miller and helped his team to victory via his moral support. Since then, the Raptors are undefeated; it remains to be seen whether he can top Pondexter and continue the momentum swing.
It’s 30-20 for Memphis right now off a jumper from Gasol, and the Grizzlies seem to be effectively controlling the ball, easily routing it to their big men on offense and forcing the Raptors into bad shots on defense. Or maybe the Raptors just really like taking dumb shots.
Amir and Bronas consecutively take their third fouls of the night, forcing Bargnani and Gray to check in. Gay takes an offensive foul next possession, and it’s becoming clear that no matter who’s on the floor, Memphis has the meat factor all locked up.
Aaron Gray dribbles in motion for the first time in his playing career, and it’s enough to inspire Gay to bank in a buzzer-beating three. A similar play on the other side is no good; the shot goes off the rim and hits Randolph in the face.
Bargnani recovers and makes a big block on Randolph, and another strong defensive play earns the Raptors a Kyle Lowry three in transition. Pretty sure that one wasn’t on the scouting report, Grizz.
Gay takes another offensive foul on Prince, and takes a seat for Terrence “The Next Kobe” Ross. Ross forgets that he can’t hit anything between the perimeter and paint, but makes a very nice desperation throw his next play off some tight defense from Bayless. With seconds left in the game, Prince gets it back and DeRozan hurls a last-ditch effort into the Jumbotron, which is pretty much completely indicative of the Raptors’ shot accuracy so far tonight.
Both teams trade several baskets to open the third quarter – maybe they’ve just agreed to let up on the defense in order to pad their shooting numbers. Maybe it’s time for John Lucas to take over the game, or time to let Alan Anderson take a whole slew of bad shots and hope he’s feeling lucky. Something’s got to give, because the Grizzlies’ stifling defense isn’t going to make a comeback easy.
The Raptors close the deficit to 56-50 on a hefty Amir dunk, falter a bit, and Ross can’t hit a shot to save his life. Amir gives Conley an and-one, forcing Anderson in, but a Lowry turnover on the next possession doesn’t help matters. Anderson scowls and draws a foul from some nobody named Ed Davis to end the quarter at 66-57 with little prospect of recovery.
Rudy Gay disagrees, and banks in another three. The Grizzlies make a few in the interim, but Anderson makes two consecutive guarded threes to make things 70-66 and suddenly everybody loves his bad decisions again.
I leave for a while, some stuff happens in the meantime, and it’s 77-71. Alan Anderson makes yet another huge three, hits the and-one, and apparently has the Raptors’ last 15 points. The Raptors earn a stop, but Anderson gets double-teamed like he’s LeBron and nobody else can handle it. Interestingly enough, NBA.com’s scoreboard thinks the Grizzlies two more points than Sportsnet does – imagine if the Raptors think they have a victory by one and it turns out some bozo miscounted.
Neither team can get anything going, but Amir draws next blood on an assist from Gay – with four minutes to go, the game is tied. The Raptors play some truly inspired defense, but Randolph manages to draw a foul and miraculous sinks both freebies. Gay tries to drive through Randolph, and Conley casually snatches it out of his hands. He makes another bad turnover on the next play, and Conley burns him with a three. Big game Rudy has left the building, and Grizzlies fans are chortling as he throws the game away.
The Raptors manage to stay stalwart on defense, but their offense is getting locked down. Probably something to do with taking Anderson out for Aaron Gray? He’s back in, but Amir can’t get through Randolph and Lowry is forced to take the foul. With just over half a minute, it’s 84-78 and Gay loses possession again. One begins to think he was a mole planted by the Grizzlies specifically to sabotage the game. Keep him off the streets, because he absolutely cannot drive tonight.
But all of a sudden Lowry makes a four-point play off Pondexter, and it’s within reach again. Anderson fouls Conley, who misses his second shot to force another foul. This time both go through, and it’s over. Randolph dribbles down the court uncontested with the Raptors moping, but shows some remarkable restraint and passes by the hoop – the exact opposite of what Landry Fields would’ve done.
Final Score: Grizzlies 88, Raptors 82.
Team Goat: I want to say DeMar DeRozan for wasting 36 minutes of playing time by shooting 1-9, but when the stakes were high and the game was on his shoulders, Rudy Gay tried to do too much, failed miserably, and killed the game with some awful drives and terribly-timed turnovers. Bargnani and Ross were also pretty terrible, and Lowry was killed by Conley in their matchup. Pretty brutal game for the team as a whole.
Team Toad: You probably didn’t notice, but Quincy Acy’s celebratory dances on the bench were worth the price of admission. Still, based on Casey’s reluctance to play him, it seems our bearded wonder still ain’t no Quincy Pondexter.
Team Bench: Alan Anderson had an inspired few minutes to reignite the team, but Amir Johnson was simply and consistently the best Raptor on the floor despite limited minutes due to foul trouble. This should be Anderson’s spot, but the team stopped relying on him once he near-singlehandedly earned them the tie, and they paid for it dearly.