Toronto finally got untracked enough for a good start to a four-game trip.
Despite trailing by 17 in the first half, the Raptors worked through their problems, upped their game after intermission and pulled away from Memphis for a 116-107 victory Friday night.
“I think we were more frustrated with ourselves that we let ourselves get down 17 points,” said guard DeMar DeRozan, who led the Raptors with 26 points. “It kind of made the job harder on ourselves. It was on us to play great basketball the rest of the game.”
The Raptors, who have stops in Sacramento, Los Angeles against the Clippers and Phoenix in the next six days, pulled within five at halftime, trailed by one after three, then outscored the Grizzlies 24-14 down the stretch.
“The middle of the third quarter is when we made our move because we started off the [second] half a little stiff,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey said, adding: “But with the first half, we have to get our motor going earlier and not allow teams to jump on us like that.”
Serge Ibaka matched his season high with 21 points, Kyle Lowry added 16 points and eight assists, and Fred VanVleet had 12 points to help the Raptors win their fifth straight.
For Memphis, its play continues to be uneven. After shooting 74 per cent in the first quarter, the Grizzlies returned to reality, shooting 43 per cent the rest of the game. Seventeen turnovers contributed to the Grizzlies troubles as they lost for the 13th time in the last 14.
“Defensively, for us, you can’t give [Toronto] 41 fast break points,” Memphis interim coach J. B. Bickerstaff said. “That’s where they thrive, in the open court.
“You allow these guys to get out and play freely like they did, they’re hard to beat.”
Tyreke Evans led the Grizzlies with 27 points, Marc Gasol had 20, and Chandler Parsons 15.
Blowing a big lead and having only one win since Nov. 7 frustrated Memphis. The Grizzlies were still within single-digits when Gasol drew a technical with 4:01 left. Then Evans got one with just under two minutes to go.
“We’re not in a position to have those mental errors,” Bickerstaff said. “We need two points as bad as anyone right now.”