Game notes:

  1. What an awesome performance from Jonas Valanciunas. That was undoubtedly his best defensive performance of the season (3 steals, 7 blocks). Anchored the paint, snagged rebounds, hit his free throws – he was the Raptors’ most important player.
  2. A few hard crashes for Kyle Lowry in the fourth quarter. The Grizzlies managed to turn the game into a wrestling match and Lowry’s not the type to back down. I was terrified the whole time. Hopefully he gets rested for the back-to-back in San Antonio (he probably won’t).
  3. The Norman Powell breakout continues. He’s become so confident and so decisive with the 3-pointer, he can take it all the way to the hoop, and that two-handed dunk in the lane was the most impressive dunk of the year (narrowly edging out DeRozan posterizing Rudy Gobert). James Johnson is #moody.
  4. Minor note with Powell: he gets at least one steal per game off opponents underestimating his reach (he had 2 tonight). He’s just 6-4 but the wingspan is 7-0.
  5. I really like JaMychal Green’s game. He reminds me of Paul Millsap with the combination of quick feet, physicality, pudginess, and shooting touch. He’s a keeper for the Grizzlies. Move everyone else.
  6. Grit and Grind: the Grizzlies basically dare the refs to call them out on their blatant fouling. If they choose to swallow the whistle, the Grizzlies just get more resolute. It became a free-for-all in the paint, especially on rebounds, and I was really worried about Valanciunas’ health. Seemed for sure he’d catch an elbow from Zach Randolph.
  7. What a clever inbound by Patrick Patterson to toss it off Green’s back.
  8. It’s crazy how easily DeMar DeRozan can get to the mid-20s in points. You almost don’t even notice it until you look at the boxscore and he’s got 27-6-4 on 17 shots with a bunch of free throws. He’s become such an unstoppable presence on offense.
  9. Huge burst by TJ Ross with the four threes in the fourth. Given the physical tone, this didn’t seem like the night for him, but he managed to swing the game.
  10. With how steady Lowry and DeRozan are, the Raptors really only need 2-3 players per night to step up in order to get the win. Tonight, Bismack Biyombo and Cory Joseph were invisible, but they can withstand that loss because Lowry and DeRozan do 80 percent of the work.

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