The Memphis Grizzlies have little room for error in their final nine games of the regular season.
The Grizzlies look to improve their chances for a spot in the playoffs when they visit the Toronto Raptors.
Memphis lost 94-91 to Denver on Tuesday, falling one game behind the Nuggets and into eighth place in the West. Pau Gasol scored 18 points and Mike Miller added 16 for the Grizzlies, who are 2 1/2 games ahead of ninth-place Minnesota for the conference’s final postseason berth.
“Everybody on this team expects to be in the playoffs. I think that’s why everybody is stressing so hard, missing free throws and messing up little things,” said Lorenzen Wright, who had 14 points and 12 rebounds. “Sometimes when you try so hard, bad things happen to you.”
Memphis was outscored 24-15 in the fourth quarter and went just 1-for-13 from 3-point range in the second half. Brian Cardinal missed a potential tying shot at the final buzzer.
“Take your pick on what we did wrong tonight,” coach Mike Fratello said. “We missed too many free throws, didn’t block out and played questionable defense. Our biggest thing was we took eight, nine or 10 consecutive jump shots at one point. We just kept doing it.”
James Posey missed his fifth straight game with a bruised right hip.
Memphis a tough road ahead, with seven games remaining against potential playoff teams. The Grizzlies will face the Eastern Conference-leading Miami Heat on Friday and have two games left against both the Dallas Mavericks and San Antonio Spurs.
However, the Grizzlies could get a boost during that stretch. Stromile Swift, who was placed on the injured list before Sunday’s win over the Los Angeles Lakers because of an irregular heartbeat, was cleared to return to practice Monday. The team said in a statement that doctors were able to correct the problem.
The Raptors lost 113-103 to the defending champion Detroit Pistons on Sunday for their seventh defeat in 10 games. Morris Peterson and Jalen Rose each scored 22 points for Toronto, which was outscored 16-0 during a five-minute stretch in the final quarter.
“A lot of times we do not get the shots we want to, and I think we need to move the ball around more,” Peterson said. “When you look at the success we’ve had, it’s come when we move the ball to the other side.”
The Raptors, who have missed the playoffs the last two seasons, are six games behind Philadelphia for the eighth and final playoff spot in the East with nine games left.