Raptors woes continue as Grizzlies take care of business

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Raptors head coach Nick Nurse talked about feeling good ahead of Thursday night’s game against Memphis.

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Chances are, that mood didn’t last long after halftime in the first quarter. It certainly didn’t go along with him in his postgame availability with the media following his team’s 119-106 loss to the visiting Grizzlies, with Mississauga native Dillon Brooks leading with 25 points.

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« It’s pretty unacceptable with the effort we put in, » Nurse said. “I thought the number of stray balls was in their favour. I’m not talking about 50-50 balls either. I’m talking about the ones where we had huge upsides to get and we just, you know, it’s our identity, who we are. Right? When we throw balls, we’re the first on the ground to get them back, and we weren’t close to that tonight. Right?

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« So looking at something other than us, just going back to instinctual effort games is my first concern. »

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That’s about as critical of his team as Nurse has been during his tenure. He’s called out individuals and even groups, but collectively calling out his team to the effort is new.

And Nurse wasn’t just talking about this particular loss.

« Certainly, lately, we’ve been missing playing on our identity, » Nurse said. « I don’t know. We’re just a little bit scrappy right now and we’re holding each other, we’ve got to hang in there and get to work and keep showing them what we’re talking about and hopefully they go out there and They should get tired of it very soon and start playing.

Thursday night’s Raptors were no match for the powerful offense the visiting Grizzlies can throw against a team.

Add in Brooks – proving again how much he loves playing with his close friends and family – and the recipe wasn’t good for the Raptors who lost their second in a row and 11th in 15.

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Ja Morant was also a problem all night, whether it was passing double teams for one of his 17 assists or hitting that can’t-miss floater in the lane he honed for some of his 19 points, not to mention a number of electrifying dunks that even had a Raptors fan crowd oohing and ahhing in appreciation.

Morant, lively and brightly colored, was new to the Raptors fan base. It was his first action at Scotiabank Arena, but Brooks knows the building and its supporters very well.

A year ago here, Brooks was at his best, taunting and feisty, calling out anyone who tried to score on him or keep him from scoring in a 17-point performance that helped the Grizzlies to a 98-91 win. .

He was back that night, first making life miserable for Pascal Siakam early on as the Grizzlies built a double-digit lead, then with his score.

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It just so happens that the Grizzlies have plenty of such weapons that present the biggest challenge for a team built like the Raptors.

Without a proper center, Steven Adams was nearly unstoppable on the boards and proved that with 17 rebounds, eight offensive boards earned his team valuable extra possessions.

Then there’s the speed with which not only Morant, but all of the Grizzlies play.
There’s also the focus on using their size, Adams and Jaren Jackson Jr., inside where they dominate the points in the paint battle.

On paper it was a bad game for the home side coming in and that was if everyone was healthy. And with Fred VanVleet with back spasms, it played out pretty much that way in real time.

Siakam led the Raps with 25 points and 10 boards while Gary Trent Jr. scored 20 off the bench. Scottie Barnes also had a double-double.

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Nurse 18e a different starting lineup in Game 35 was a rather short experience.

A 13-4 start for the visitors will have that kind of impact.

Without Fred VanVleet and facing a team that has a good size with Adams at 6-foot-11, 265 pounds and Jackson at 6-foot-11, 242 pounds, Nurse opted to fill VanVleet’s spot in the starting five with 7 – footer (although only 217 books) Christian Koloko.

Koloko was even questionable to play in the game after suffering a knee injury on Tuesday against the Clippers, but knee tests proved there was no major issue and the decision was made late in the day. start Koloko.

It was exactly 3:52 into the game before Nurse had seen enough and brought in a traditional point guard in Malachi Flynn and his second-highest available scorer in Trent.

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The nurse spoke before the game about being confident the Raptors’ preparedness for the challenge the Grizzlies posed, but admitted their preparation on Wednesday was based on an entirely different game plan than the one they ended up with , likely after Koloko’s availability became less of a question.

The Koloko/Juancho Hernangomez/Barnes/Siakam/OG Anunoby starting five was definitely one of the less traditional starting five Nurse has started in his tenure as head coach of the Raptors.

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VanVleet missed his seventh game of the season due to back spasms that cut his final game short.

The news is a bit better on Precious Achiuwa, who has missed the past seven weeks with a sprained right ankle. Achiuwa remains doubtful for Friday’s game with Phoenix, but based on his grueling practice Wednesday after team practice, there’s strong belief he’ll make his comeback against the Suns.


After last night’s game, the Raptors waived Justin Champagnie. If he can get past the unclaimed waiver wire, he could be back with Raptors G-League affiliate 905.


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