Raptors-Grizzlies Preview

The Associated Press

Despite missing two key players, the Memphis Grizzlies managed to remain competitive in losing to one of the perennial contenders in the Western Conference the last time they took the court.

The Grizzlies might have a chance to improve their record over the next few games beginning with a visit from the Toronto Raptors on Friday night.

They might also get some help during that stretch with Zach Randolph and Rudy Gay possibly returning from their injuries.

Randolph hasn't been in the lineup for Memphis (24-17) since tearing his right MCL during a 104-64 loss in Chicago on Jan. 1. He said he hopes to return shortly and didn't rule out playing in the Grizzlies' two games this weekend.

Memphis was also missing Gay, its top scorer, during a visit from the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday. Gay was dealing with a mild concussion that he suffered two days earlier during a 94-91 win in Denver.

Even with those two players out, the Grizzlies managed to take the Lakers into double overtime before falling 116-111.

Marreese Speights, who has started during Randolph's absence, had a season-high 25 points and seven rebounds. Marc Gasol had 20 points and was one of six players in double figures.

"I've got no problem with my team. Our guys played hard. They played with a lot of energy and a lot of heart. We lost to a team that played better," coach Lionel Hollins said. "We've got to give them their due, and we've just got to get ready to come back on Friday."

Hollins' team will begin a stretch of four consecutive games against sub-.500 teams. That could help the Grizzlies bounce back after losing two of three following an 11-2 stretch.

Memphis has won six straight over Toronto (14-29) and seven of eight home meetings, including three in a row. The Grizzlies, though, needed late baskets from Gay and Tony Allen to secure a 102-99 victory at the Air Canada Centre on March 2.

The Raptors scored one point over the final 1:06 of that defeat and struggled throughout much of the second half during a 98-84 loss at New Jersey on Wednesday. Toronto was outscored 57-38 over those final 24 minutes and made 12 of 35 shots (34.3 percent) to finish at 38.3 percent.

Dwane Casey's team was playing its fourth game in five days, but he refused to use that as an excuse.

"We're in the NBA and that is what we are paid to do, perform each and every night. I just didn't see that," Casey said. "In the first half we competed. We wanted to belong. In the second half we didn't meet their toughness."

Each team won't have one player on its roster following Thursday's trade deadline. The Raptors shipped guard Leandro Barbosa to Indiana for a second-round pick and cash, while the Grizzlies sent swingman Sam Young to Philadelphia for the draft rights to Ricky Sanchez.

While they won't have Young, they probably would like Randolph back for this game. He's averaged 25.5 points on 61.8 percent shooting in two home matchups with Toronto over his three seasons in Memphis.

Gay, who reportedly practiced Thursday, has averaged 22.8 points over his last four games against the Raptors.

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