But, this time, the Grizzlies didn't wait until the fourth quarter to amp up their team defense and put the game away. After a 48-47 first half, the Grizzlies overwhelmed the Raptors with a 33-14 third quarter in which it took the Raptors more than eight minutes to notch their second made field goal of the period. This 22-6 Grizzlies run included four steals and two blocks from Grizzlies perimeter players, and was spurred by Tony Allen, who has been rounding into better all-around form after a rough start offensively. But this was the first time this season that Allen seemed to be in full “Ante Up” form. One steal from Kyle Lowry became a breakaway bucket. Then Allen kidnapped DeMar DeRozan, taking the ball away on an attempted jumper and finishing on the other end with a rare one-hand dunk that capped the 22-6 run and effectively ended the game.
Man of the Match: If Allen's eruption was the most memorable aspect of the game, Zach Randolph was again the team's best all-around player. On the day that I wrote about Marc Gasol's passing exploits, with was Randolph tonight who was dropping dimes, doubling his previous season high with 6 assists. Randolph added 17 points on 7-10 shooting and 13 rebounds. With floor-stretching Raptor power forward Andrea Bargnani banged-up and not active, the entire frontcourt was a mismatch in the Grizzlies favor in this one, with the Grizzlies' big-man rotation combining for 54 points and 30 rebounds while their Toronto counterparts mustered only 16 points and 14 rebounds. Marreese Speights, struggling with his shot for most of the season, contributed 18 and 12 of that, on 7-11 shooting. Speights needed one of those, and Lionel Hollins attributed his improved play to a strong practice the day before.
The Match-Up: Neither Mike Conley nor Kyle Lowry seemed quite 100 percent, with Conley showing some affects of his Monday flu and Lowry still feeling his way back from a recent foot injury, but Conley got the best of his former teammate in this one, mostly via more efficient scoring, with 16 points on only six field-goal attempts to Lowry's 12 points on 10 attempts.
Mike Conley and Kyle Lowry
The Jacob Riis Report: Not a good night for the Raptor rookies, Jonas Valanciunas (2 points and 2 rebounds on 1-4 shooting) and Terrence Ross (8 points on 4-13 shooting). Valanciunas is a very promising prospect, but the 20-year-old wasn't up to combatting Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph on the second night of a back-to-back.
Tweet O’ the Game: Tony Allen just poured a whole quart of crazy all over the Raptors. — @EdArnold
Arena Action: The Michael Heisley-Robert Pera Game Counter moves to Heisley 6, Pera 1.
Where They Stand: The Grizzlies improve to 11-2 and maintain their slim lead atop the Western Conference standings over the San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder, both of whom had big wins tonight as well.
Looking Ahead: Don't look now, but the Detroit Pistons are starting to resemble a real team. The destroyed the Phoenix Suns, 117-77, Wednesday night and are now 5-3 since their 0-8 start. They'll be at FedExForum on Friday night for the final game of this season-long five-game homestand.
Announced Attendance: 14,603
After the worst three-point shooting campaign of this career a season ago and a rough shooting start this season, Rudy Gay (3-5 tonight) has found his stroke of late, rebounding from a 2-14 start to the season to shoot 13-23 since.
Darrell Arthur was available tonight but was not used after exhibiting what the team refers to as “soreness' related to his rehab. After missing a year-and-a-half and coming back from two separate leg injuries, Arthur's comeback can be expected to be a little bumpy, but tonight's absence doesn't seem to be a cause for significant concern.
“Marreese Speights … FOR THREE” — Something Grizzlies public address announcer Rick Trotter hasn't had much practice saying, but tonight he got his chance.