Memphis set a team record for wins in a month Friday, improving to 11-2 in March by beating the Houston Rockets 109-86.
The victory, coupled with the Dallas Mavericks’ 119-118 overtime loss at Miami, left the Grizzlies two games ahead of the Mavericks for the fifth playoff spot in the West.
Stromile Swift had 19 points and 10 rebounds, and Jason Williams added 18 points as Memphis won its fourth straight game and 12th in its last 14. The Grizzlies sprinted to a 20-point lead in the first quarter and never let up.
“We just ran off with it,” Memphis forward James Posey said. “If you’re hitting your shots, and on the defensive end, you’re getting steals, deflections and getting out on the break, you dictate your game.”
Toronto, coming off a 108-101 loss to the New York Knicks on Friday, has dropped three straight and four of five.
The Raptors are in 12th place in the Eastern Conference.
“Any time you lose at this point in the season, it’s a serious loss,” Raptors guard Jalen Rose said. “We need all of the wins we can get. If we are fortunate enough to be in the situation where we start winning games, then we can make the playoffs and make this thing interesting. We need to find a way to regroup and find a way to win Sunday.”
Vince Carter scored 40 points for Toronto, including 10 points in the third quarter that helped the Raptors build a 66-55 lead.
“I can care less about the points,” Carter said. “I was just trying to do what needed to be done to get the win. And it wasn’t enough. So maybe I needed to score 50.”
Toronto tied a team record by hitting nine 3-pointers in the first half, finishing 13-for-28 from beyond the arc.
STANDINGS (through March 26): Grizzlies - 3rd place, 2 1/2 GB, Midwest Division. Raptors - 6th place, 23 GB, Central Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Grizzlies - Gasol, 17.9 ppg and 7.9 rpg; Williams, 6.7 apg. Raptors - Carter, 22.7 ppg; Marshall, 9.5 rpg; Rose, 5.0 apg.
SEASON SERIES: Grizzlies, 1-0.
LAST MEETING: Tuesday; Grizzlies, 95-86. At Memphis, Tenn., Gasol scored 29 points, and Swift added 21 points and 13 rebounds.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Grizzlies - 17-17 on the road; Raptors - 17-18 at home.