MEMPHIS, Tenn, Jan. 8 (Ticker) --
Thanks to Stromile Swift,
the Memphis Grizzlies looked nothing like the worst team in the league.
Swift had 20 points and 10 rebounds, including a soaring follow dunk with 10 seconds left, as the Grizzlies edged the Toronto Raptors, 84-81, and snapped a four-game losing streak.
After Sunday's loss to Seattle, point guard Jason Williams
lost his cool and said, "Face the facts, we're the worst team in the league." He later was fined by the team.
"I gotta really watch my mouth," said Williams, who had nine points and 11 assists. "I don't know what this organization is
going to do with me. So I really ain't got no comments for any of y'all."
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Stromile Swift and Grant Long jump for joy over their 10th victory of the season.
Joe Murphy /NBAE/Getty Images
"I told our players we're a good ballclub and we can beat anybody if we play that way," Grizzlies coach Sidney Lowe said.
"That's the way we have to play, because we don't have a guy that can just carry us."
Memphis came in with the worst record in the Western Conference but was able to handle Toronto despite 31 points from Vince Carter
and snap a four-game slide in what was once a meeting of Canadian teams.
Swift had a lot to do with that, making three big baskets down the stretch. After Carter's flying dunk for a three-point play made it 82-81 with 36 seconds left, the second-year forward hammered home a miss by rookie Pau Gasol.
"I just wanted to be active. It just feels natural," said Swift, who is very shy by nature.
On the final possession, Carter nearly threw away a pass and Chris Childs
had to run down the deflection in the backcourt. He got the ball to Alvin Williams,
who pulled up for a 3-pointer that was short.
"We were just going to switch off all the screens and jam whoever caught the ball," Lowe said. "We wanted to force him
(Carter) to put the ball down on the floor. Our guys did a good job of taking it out of his hands and Brevin (Knight)
knocked the ball into the backcourt, which ate some clock."
Gasol also had 20 points and 10 boards for Memphis, which shot 47 percent (36-of-77) and held a 49-38 advantage on the glass.
"I don't think we should have put ourselves in that position, first of all," Raptors forward Antonio Davis
said. "If we play a little bit better, rebound a little bit better, we're not in a position to take a last-second 3-pointer to tie the game just so we can get to overtime. I'm just very disappointed in our effort."
scored 14 points and Jerome Williams added 12 for the Raptors, who had won their last four meetings with the Grizzlies. Toronto has dropped two in a row and four of seven.
A jumper by Jerome Williams
pulled Toronto into a 70-70 tie early in the fourth quarter but rookie Shane Battier
had a pair of blocks that led to a jumper by Rodney Buford
and a dunk by Gasol for a 74-70 lead with 8:09 to go.
"Not bad for an unathletic over-the-hill rookie," said Battier, who scored just seven points.
Carter's layup cut the deficit to 78-76 with 4:21 left and the teams traded several empty possessions before Swift's jumper at the 2:40 mark. Davis made a jumper 27 seconds later and again both teams went dry until Swift's jumper made it 82-78 with 39 seconds remaining.
"I just got a lot of open shots and started making 'em," Swift said. "I think it's probably because of the practice we had
yesterday. It was really intense. Our team came out with a lot of energy tonight. We shared the ball and that helped stretch
Rebuilding with youth, the Grizzlies received good games from veteran frontcourt players Grant Long
and Tony Massenburg.
Long had 11 points and five rebounds and Massenburg had 10 and 10.
"It was a good win for us. It was a total team win," Battier said. "We've got some tough road games coming up (against
Phoenix, Utah and the Lakers) and we wanted to end this homestand with an exclamation point. If guys make winning plays and we string those winning plays together, we'll win games."
Toronto, which shot 41 percent (35-of-85), grabbed a 44-43 lead at halftime as Carter scored 18 points. Gasol scored 14 and Swift added 12.