Raptors Can't Hold Lead In Loss To Grizzlies
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Post Game: Highlights | Casey | Calderon | Bayless
March 2, 2012
TORONTO (CP) Prior to Friday's game against Memphis, Toronto Raptors head coach Dwane Casey identified Jose Calderon as one of his ``closers'' -- a player he trusts to take clutch shots late in games.
To that end, the Raptors had the ball in the hands of the right guy against the Grizzlies -- they just didn't get the result they wanted.
Calderon missed the potential game-tying three-pointer in the final seconds Friday night as the Raptors dropped a 102-99 decision to Memphis.
Toronto's 11th loss in the past 15 games may have been one of the most difficult to digest, given that the Raptors outplayed Memphis for long stretches while prevailing in several statistical categories.
Calderon acknowledged that he had a good look on the shot, which clanked off the left edge of the rim to propel Memphis to its seventh win in the last eight games.
``It felt good when it came out of my hand,'' said Calderon, who finished with 10 points and nine assists. ``If they want me to take it again, I'll take it. It happens.''
It wasn't the only key miss down the stretch for the Raptors, who watched Linas Kleiza bounce a wide-open 17-footer off the back of the rim with 13.9 seconds left and the Raptors trailing 100-99. That shot came moments after Rudy Gay, who led the Grizzlies with 23 points, put his team ahead for good with a long jumper that was accompanied by a mocking finger to his lips as he ran back down court.
Calderon also misfired on a free throw with 1:07 remaining that would have given Toronto a two-point lead.
``Linas was probably too open,'' Casey lamented. ``Any how many times is Jose going to miss a free throw? (It's) just a lot of little things (related to) closing out games and game-winning plays.''
The game wasn't decided until the final minute, but the turning point may have come at the beginning of the second half. Toronto shot 56.8 per cent in the opening 24 minutes but missed its first four shots of the third quarter, during which the Grizzlies exploded for 11 unanswered points to turn a seven-point deficit into a four-point lead.
``We had trouble scoring, turned the ball over and couldn't make buckets,'' Casey said. ``We kind of came out in second gear out of the locker-room so we had to call a timeout and address that.
``We knew it was coming. A team as tough as Memphis, at some point is going to turn up the heat and they did at the beginning of the third.''
Toronto also struggled to deal with a swarming Grizzlies defence that ranks near the top of the league in steals, forced turnovers and points off opposing giveaways. At the top of the whiteboard in the Raptors' locker room, under the heading ``KEYS,'' was a simple message: Keep turnovers down.
That didn't happen.
Despite besting the Grizzlies in shooting percentage, rebounds and assists, Toronto was ultimately done in by 16 turnovers which led to 24 Memphis points.
``This Memphis team is one of the most mentally tough teams in the league,'' Casey said. ``We had a lead and didn't protect it. We won every category we wanted to except turnovers.
``They are a lot like Miami, and when you turn it over they convert on it. That was our bugaboo.''
Toronto did get a major boost from its bench, which outscored the Grizzlies' reserves 54-29 and shot 62.5 percent from the floor.
``We played hard, we played well, but we struggled with their bench,'' said Memphis head coach Lionel Hollins.
Notes: Two nights after shooting a season-best nine for 15 from three-point range in New Orleans, Toronto connected on just 6-of-16 attempts from beyond the arc. ... Memphis improved to 10-1 this season against teams below .500. ... Eight different Raptors had at least one assist in the first half. ... The Raptors equalled a season low with just four offensive rebounds.