TAMPA, Fla. – The Toronto Raptors’ loss to Memphis that left them getting ready to elimination had slightly little bit of every part.
Their thirty fourth beginning lineup of the season — a franchise report. Accidents to Pascal Siakam and Rodney Hood. Most of their key gamers out for the evening. And Fred VanVleet moonlighting as a coach.
Siakam and Gary Trent Jr. scored 18 factors apiece and the Raptors misplaced 109-99 to the Grizzlies on Saturday — a sport that was reflective of a wacky season rocked by COVID-19.
And now it could possibly be about to finish. An Indiana victory over Cleveland on Monday would formally finish the Raptors’ post-season hopes.
Coach Nick Nurse has already had an eye fixed on subsequent season, nonetheless, and so Saturday was partly about analysis and improvement.
“From a schematic standpoint, we executed fairly nicely,” Nurse stated, summing up his younger gamers. “I simply didn’t assume we performed that nicely offensively.”
Rookie Jalen Harris had 16 factors off the bench, Malachi Flynn added 15, Yuta Watanabe chipped in with 11 factors, whereas Khem Birch had 10 for the Raptors (27-41).
“With the yr that we’ve had, the COVID yr and whatnot, I believe every part has been about making changes, and enjoying on the fly,” Harris stated. “I believe we’ve been in a position to strive to do this particularly with all of the accidents and totally different conditions we’ve had all yr and I simply assume it’s one thing that we’re getting used to.”
Siakam didn’t play the fourth quarter after struggling a shoulder pressure, whereas Hood fractured his hand within the fourth.
Former Raptor Jonas Valanciunas had 18 factors and 21 rebounds for Memphis, whereas Jaren Jackson Jr., had 20 factors to prime the Grizzlies (31-30).
In a tricky season that noticed the displaced Raptors nose-dive down the standings with one win in March amid a COVID-19 outbreak, Toronto got here into Saturday’s sport nonetheless alive for a spot within the play-in match by a sliver — a spot Nurse known as the “last-chance saloon.”
The Raptors are four-and-a-half video games behind Indiana for the tenth and remaining play-in spot within the Jap Convention with 4 video games to go.
The Raptors sat Kyle Lowry, VanVleet and OG Anunoby on Saturday both for relaxation or harm upkeep, VanVleet wearing teaching apparel with a black Raptors golf shirt.
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“He’s , that’s the large factor. He even got here in with our halftime coaches assembly and sat in with that which I assumed was fairly attention-grabbing for him,” Nurse stated of VanVleet. “It’s good that he’s engaged . . . when he’s not obtainable, he’s nonetheless very close to the court docket serving to guys and he was teaching very arduous with Malachi tonight in order that was good.”
Trailing by 12 factors late within the third quarter, the Raptors opened the fourth with a 10-0 run capped by Trent Jr.’s three-pointer that pulled them to inside some extent.
When Valanciunas, who performed almost seven seasons for Toronto, muscled his strategy to the ring, his basket capped a 13-3 Grizzlies run that had Memphis again up by 10 with 5 minutes to play.
The Raptors sliced the distinction to 5 on a basket by Flynn with 1:25 to play, however that was as shut as they’d come.
The Raptors had received the earlier seven conferences between the 2 groups. Valanciunas performed an enormous half in ending that streak. Impressed in opposition to his previous workforce, after the Raptors shipped him to Memphis within the Marc Gasol deal on the 2019 commerce deadline, Valanciunas has recorded double-doubles in consecutive contests in opposition to his former workforce.
Requested if he had a favorite reminiscence of Valanciunas, Nurse talked about working with the large man in Lithuania within the off-seasons.
“You most likely know Jonas likes to hunt and fish. And he took me fishing one time and I’ve by no means seen a man so blissful when he was reeling in a fish. Like so intense, so excited. And I instructed him, ‘Subsequent yr after we’re out on the ground I’m gonna inform you to rebound prefer it’s a fish,’” Nurse stated with a loud chortle. “I need you to be as enthusiastic about going to the glass as you might be about reeling in that fish.’”
The Grizzlies raced out to a 10-point first quarter lead, however the Raptors closed the body with a 15-5 run to ship the sport into the second tied at 26-26.
Trent Jr.’s financial institution shot early within the second capped a 9-2 Raptors run that had them up by 5, however they couldn’t preserve the momentum. Dillon Brooks fed Ja Morant for an alley-oop dunk with just below a minute to play to place Memphis up by 4, and the Grizzlies took a 47-46 lead into the halftime break.
The Grizzlies stretched the distinction to 12 factors on a Jackson three-pointer late within the quarter. Morant stole the ball off Siakam for a dunk with 0.9 seconds to play and Memphis led 81-72 with one quarter to play.
Nurse, additionally the coach of the Canadian nationwide males’s workforce, expects Brooks to play in Canada’s last-chance Olympic qualifying match June 29 to July 4 in Victoria.
“He’s in. He’s been in each time I’ve talked to him,” Nurse stated of the native of Mississauga, Ont. “He’s hungry to play and signify his nation in order that’s nice.
“And so far as his sport I believe him amongst plenty of different guys have actually improved this yr, and I can solely say that his compete degree is approach up there, his toughness is up there, his willingness to get down and play defence is approach up there and he’s clearly not bashful in terms of the offensive finish.”
The Raptors host Kawhi Leonard and the L.A. Clippers on Tuesday, then may play spoiler in opposition to the visiting Chicago Bulls on Thursday. They journey to Dallas on Friday then host Indiana within the regular-season finale on Sunday.
This report by The Canadian Press was first printed Could 8, 2021.
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