The Toronto Raptors made no moves as the NBA trade deadline approached and passed. The Memphis Grizzlies were busy.
It looked that way on Sunday.
The Raptors played like a team that has stayed together and defeated the Grizzlies 98-85 led by 21 points from guard DeMar DeRozan.
A combination of trades and injuries had the Grizzlies in full regrouping mode.
“We really battled our tails off,” Grizzlies coach David Joerger said. “We keep playing hard, we’re going to find ourselves in position to win games. For having a group that’s just coming together in the last 48 hours, to go 1-1 this weekend (including a win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday), that’s pretty good.”
Guard Kyle Lowry added 18 points and seven assists for the Raptors (36-18), who had lost their previous two games.
“I thought the defense was in the game,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey said. “Everyone’s knees were bent, down in the stance, ready to play and out of vacation mode.”
Forward Zach Randolph scored 18 points and grabbed six rebounds for the Grizzlies (32-23), who had won their two previous games.
The Raptors took a 10-point lead after three quarters and increased that to 14 in the fourth quarter.
The Grizzlies trimmed the lead to five points late in the fourth. But Raptors reserve guard Cory Joseph hit a 3-pointer with 1:09 to play to give Toronto a 10-point lead.
Joseph finished with 14 points.
“We played better defensively today,” Joseph said. “Everything was quicker. Quicker to the ball, 50-50 balls, rotations were better. We just tried to keep them out of the paint and make them take tough shots.”
Centre Jonas Valanciunas added 10 points and grabbed 12 rebounds for the Raptors, while reserve forward Patrick Patterson had 11 points with eight rebounds.
Reserve guard Mario Chalmers added 17 points for Memphis and guards Lance Stephenson, who was playing his first game for the Grizzlies, and Vince Carter scored 16 points each.
Late last week, the Grizzlies sent forward Jeff Green to the Los Angeles Clippers for Stephenson and acquired forward Chris Andersen from the Miami Heat and guard P.J. Hairston from the Charlotte Hornets.
Their injuries include centre Marc Gasol’s fractured foot.
“Most nights we’re going to come away with a win playing that hard,” said Grizzlies guard Mike Conley, who scored eight points and had four assists and five rebounds. “We played against a very good team tonight, they played well. … Lance (Stephenson) looked good. He adjusted really quickly. We kind of slimmed down the playbook a little book and just gave him three or four plays to remember and just let him play in space, he’s good at that.”
The Grizzlies hit just 36.8 percent (28-for-76) from the field and were 15 percent (3-for-20) in 3-point attempts.
The Raptors shot 40.7 percent from the floor (33-for-81) and 26 percent (7-for-28) from 3-point range.
DeRozan was participating in his 232nd win with the Raptors, which equals the team record held by Chris Bosh and Morris Peterson.
“I kept seeing it on Twitter the past couple of days and that’s how I really knew,” DeRozan said. “It’s a cool thing honestly, just to be in the same record books and I have an opportunity to keep growing with that.”
Joseph hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give the Raptors a 22-20 lead after the first quarter.
The Raptors worked their lead up to 12 in the second quarter but after Carter closed the half by sinking three free throws, Toronto’s lead was down to 46-43.
Lowry hit a 3-pointer with 4:51 to play in the third quarter to increase the Raptors’ lead to eight points.
DeRozan made two free throws to end the third quarter and give the Raptors a 74-64 lead.
Reserve centre Bismack Biyombo opened the fourth quarter with a fadeaway jumper that increased Toronto’s lead to 12.
Patterson hit a 3-pointer to increase the lead to 14.
After Lowry missed a 3-point attempt, Stephenson made a layup to trim the lead to six with 5:26 left.
Stephenson had 10 points in the fourth quarter.
Randolph made two free throws with 3:31 to play and the Grizzlies trailed by five points.
DeRozan got the lead back up to eight with a jumper and a free throw.