Raptors can’t handle Valanciunas inside, lose 109-99 to the Grizzlies

Photo Credit: @Raptors on Twitter

Plagued by poor shooting, the Raptors dropped their sixth game in their last seven, losing 109-99 to the Grizzlies. Led by 18 points and 21 rebounds from former Raptor Jonas Valanciunas and a game high 20 points from Jaren Jackson Jr., Memphis was able to improve their record to 34-33.

With tonight’s loss the Raptors playoff hopes hang by the thinnest of threads. Toronto will need to win the final four games of their season while hoping the Pacers lose their final five. A Pacers win on Monday over the Cavaliers would officially eliminate the Raptors from the playoffs for the first time since the 2012-13 season.

Both teams battled back-and-forth in a sloppy game tonight in Florida. The Grizzlies held a slim 47-46 lead at halftime as the Raptors struggled at the start with their 34th different starting lineup. Without Kyle Lowry, Fred VanVleet and OG Anunoby, Toronto relied on Malachi Flynn and Yuta Watanabe who were inserted into the starting lineup.

The Raptors had a tough time getting their shots to fall, shooting only 38% as a team and a combined 10-32 from beyond the arc. After a career-high 44 points on Thursday, Pascal Siakam had a team-high 18 before leaving the game at the start of the fourth due to a left shoulder strain.

The Grizzlies pulled away in the fourth quarter after De’Anthony Melton hit three consecutive deep shots to put Memphis back up by 10. Melton scored 15 off the bench, 12 of them in the fourth, while the Grizzlies had seven of their players score over double-digits.

Valanciunas was a force in the paint all night, while Jackson made an impact offensively in his first start this season after recovering from a torn meniscus. Ja Morant was held to only 12 points, while Canadian Dillon Brooks scored 14.

Gary Trent Jr. scored 18 points, while Malachi Flynn poured in 15 during his tenth start of his rookie season. 2020 second round pick Jalen Harris also added 16 points in 29 minutes, both career-high marks for him.

With only four games left in the season, the Raptors enter the final week of this “un-pure” season with much of the focus now shifted towards the off-season. Toronto will look forward to two days off before playing the Clippers on Tuesday night. Tip-off is set for 7:30PM EST and can be seen on Sportsnet.

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