Grizzlies 94, Raptors 88
“It’s a great turnaround for the franchise,” Gasol said. “We’ve surprised ourselves. I can’t believe where we are at this point. It’s just wonderful.”
Stromile Swift added 18 points for the Grizzlies.
“It’s wonderful for Mr. Heisley,” Memphis coach Hubie Brown said of Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley.
Heisley moved the franchise from Vancouver to Memphis three years ago, and hired Jerry West as general manager two years ago.
Memphis improved to 47-26, good enough for fifth place in the Western Conference.
“It just feels good to be on a winning team,” said Swift, who is the only player remaining from the Vancouver era. “This is my fourth year. In Vancouver we didn’t win many games.”
The Grizzlies entered this season with an overall record of 152-472. Last year, they finished in sixth place in the Midwest Division with a 28-54 record.
Vince Carter scored 16 points on 6-for-22 shooting as Toronto lost its fourth straight and dropped to 12th place in the Eastern Conference.
Raptors president and CEO Richard Peddie acknowledged at halftime Sunday that tension exists between general manager Glen Grunwald and first-year coach Kevin O’Neill.
“You get friction like this when a team is not playing up to what everyone wants it to play,” Peddie said. “I can’t say I like it.”
Peddie said he will address Grunwald’s and O’Neill’s future with the organization soon. Grunwald doesn’t have a contract beyond this season, and O’Neill has a year remaining on his contract.
Toronto has nine games left to try and make the playoffs.
“I’d say we’d probably have to win six of our last nine, or seven of our last nine to have any chance,” O’Neill said.
Carter’s layup with 2:36 left pulled Toronto within four points, but Williams made two straight 3-pointers to give the Grizzlies a 88-78 lead with 1:54 remaining.
Williams’ layup gave Memphis a 90-84 lead with 45 seconds remaining. Gasolmade two free throws in the final 20 seconds to help seal the win.
Peddie couldn’t say for sure that both Grunwald and O’Neill would be back next season. “I’d like to think so, but let’s wait and play it out,” he said. … Memphis has won 13 of 15. … Marshall had 16 points and 14 rebounds…. Gasol tied a season-high in rebounds.