The Memphis Grizzlies beat the Toronto Raptors, 84-81 in front of a crowd of 14,323 at the Pyramid Tuesday night. The win marks the Grizzlies tenth of the season, but seventh over an Eastern Conference opponent.
Appropriate to the double-digit number of wins, Memphis featured three players with double-doubles: forwards Pau Gasol and Stromile Swift each scored 20 points, and pulled down 10 rebounds. Tony Massenburg scored 10 points and also collected 10 rebounds. Forward Grant Long also scored 10 points for the Grizzlies.
Swift, who scored key baskets late in the game, didnÕt think that he did anything too spectacular on the floor. ÒIf they play off you, you shoot the ball,Ó he said. ÒIf they guard you close, you go hard. ItÕs just playing basketball.Ó
Grizzlies head coach Sidney Lowe gave his team more credit. ÒThat was a great game for us, with three guys with double doublesÓ Lowe said after the game. ÒMassenburg was big, and Pau, and StroÕ. We were under control, our defense was solid, and our big guys pulled down the boards for us.Ó
The Grizzlies (10-24) out-rebounded the Raptors (18-16) 49-38, and beat the Raptors in the paint, 48-22. The Grizzlies took full advantage of still-heeling Raptors center Hakeem Olajuwon, as well as foul trouble by the Raptors other center, Keon Clark. Both Olajuwon and Clark combined for only 10 points, and five rebounds.
However, as with many teams with a bona fide superstar, the Raptors hung in this game with the efforts of guard Vince Carter, who scored 31 points on 50% shooting.
"You saw him," Grizzlies guard Rodney Buford said after the game. "He can do it all. He can drive, he's strong, and he can shoot. He's a great finisher when he's focused." However, Buford thinks the Toronto guard lost some of that focus toward the end of the game. "He did lose his head a little at the end of the game," Buford said. "but when he's focuses, he can make plays."
Also for the Raptors, veteran guard/forward Dell Curry scored 14 points, and forward Jerome Williams scored 12 points.
The win halts the GrizzliesÕ four game losing streak, and comes on the verge of a West Coast swing in which the Grizzlies face the Phoenix Suns, the Utah Jazz, and the L.A. Lakers, respectively.
According to Swift the win means little in the way of a confidence builder, since the Grizzlies face tough opponents every game. ÒWe never have a day off, in this league,Ó Swift said. ÒThere are good players on every team, you approach each game the same.Ó
The Grizzlies return to the Pyramid against the Dallas Mavericks on Thursday, January 19, and 7 p.m.