Gay makes triumphant return as Raptors blow out Grizzlies

Don Wade, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- In the first quarter, he was Rudy Gay the facilitator as he handed out three assists and passed up several shots. In the second quarter, he was Rudy Gay the scorer as he went 3-for-3 from 3-point range and scored 11 points.
By game's end, the Toronto Raptors' small forward had scored a team-high 23 points as the Raptors defeated the Memphis Grizzlies 103-87 on Wednesday night at FedExForum.
Gay was in his sixth season with the Grizzlies when they traded him to Toronto last January. Gay scored 13 points in a loss to the Grizzlies in Toronto on Feb. 10, but Wednesday night he had 13 by halftime. Gay also finished with six rebounds, five steals, four assists and two blocks Wednesday.
"He played great," said Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry, who had 21 points and six assists. "He did a good job of letting the game come to him."
It didn't hurt that shooting guard DeMar DeRozan (18 points) got off to a hot start with 13 first-quarter points.
"I picked my spots," said Gay, who finished 8-of-18 from the floor, 4-of-6 from 3-point range two nights after he hoisted 37 shots in a double-overtime loss at Houston. "I wanted to be aggressive. I'm the kind of guy if I shoot two and miss, I'm gonna make sure I miss a third."
Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley had a game-high 29 points and fueled a third-quarter run that brought the Grizzlies (3-5) even, at 70-70, when he hit a driving layup at the 3:33 mark. But Memphis never got a second-half lead and the Raptors (4-5) closed the third quarter on a 6-0 run to lead 78-71 going into the fourth.
"I'm tired of playing from behind," Memphis coach Dave Joerger said. "I'm really, really tired of it."
Grizzlies center Marc Gasol finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds and power forward Zach Randolph had 10 points and 10 boards.
When Gay hit a jumper to put the Raptors up 96-77 with 5:49 to play, the Grizzlies called timeout and Gay shoulder-bumped with players on the Raptors' bench as fans booed. Toronto shot 46.3 percent from the floor (31 of 67) to the Grizzlies' 42.7 (35 of 82).
The Raptors shot 53.3 percent from 3-point range (8-of-15) and shot 39 free throws, hitting 33 (84.6 percent). Memphis shot just 17 free throws and made 11 (64.7 percent). Joerger picked up a technical foul in the first half when he complained about the free-throw attempt disparity.
But after the game, most of his complaints centered on his team's effort -- or lack thereof.
"Without question, people do not fear us anymore," Joerger said, referencing the team's trip to the Western Conference Finals last season. "We're not playing hard enough."
Memphis shooting guard Tony Allen, who had 10 points, said: "He's right. We're playing hard in spurts and then in spurts we're lackadaisical. We've got to hold our hat on the defensive end and until we do fans are gonna be booing, fans are gonna be walking out (early), and we're gonna keep losing games like this."
Last season, Memphis surrendered 100 or points just 11 times. They've already done that four times in the first eight games.
With all the same core players back, the most notable change is from Lionel Hollins to Joerger as head coach. Gasol rejected that as an explanation for all the team's problems.
"I don't think it's that simple," he said.
Lowry said they certainly had in mind the Memphis team that won 56 games last season coming into this game.
"We attacked," Lowry said of their strategy and getting to the line. "They're a very physical team."
The Raptors held their own on the boards, grabbing 37 rebounds to 40 for Memphis.
"It was a defensive focus from start to finish," Raptors coach Dwane Casey said. "We executed our schemes ... everyone was in the right spot."
NOTES: In a 110-104 double-overtime loss in Houston on Monday, Toronto put up 114 shots and had just 10 assists. According to, Toronto is the only team since the start of the 1985-86 season to attempt so many shots with so few assists in a game. Raptors coach Dwane Casey said they played one-on-one way too much. "We have to trust the pass," Casey said. ... On Wednesday, Raptors F Rudy Gay played his first game in Memphis since he was traded to Toronto last January. "It wasn't my choice," Gay said of the trade. "Instead of me being bitter about it, just do what I can (for Toronto)." Gay is owed $37 million this year and next, but he can opt out after this season, and his name is already circulating in trade rumors.

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