Game Centre: Raptors ride barrage of three-pointers to win over Grizzlies

Game Centre: Raptors ride barrage of three-pointers to win over Grizzlies
A Toronto Raptors team that’s been known to let big leads slip away before recovering to win came up with an entirely different game plan in Memphis on Tuesday night.

Toronto Raptors guard Fred VanVleet (23) drives against Memphis Grizzlies forward Jaren Jackson Jr. (13) on Tuesday night. VanVleet made all six of his shots and finished with 16 points.  (Brandon Dill / AP)

After a miserable first half and a sluggish start to the second, the Raptors rallied behind Fred VanVleet and a series of huge three-point baskets to beat the Grizzlies 122-114 and extend their winning streak to six games in a row.

VanVleet made all six of the shots he took on the night and finished with 16 points as Toronto gave up 71 points in the first half before buckling down in the second.

Kyle Lowry had 24 for the Raptors and the other four starters were also in double-figures for Toronto, now an NBA-best 18-4 on the season.

With some of their most ineffective play of the season at both ends, Toronto worked itself into a 17-point third quarter hole but with a barrage of three-pointers — five in the first eight minutes of the fourth quarter — it took a six-point lead with about four minutes remaining.

Tuesday NBA preview: Toronto Raptors at Memphis Grizzlies

Two threes from VanVleet and one from Lowry gave Toronto its biggest lead since early in the fourth quarter as the Raptors took control.

VanVleet was also instrumental in the Raptors’ fourth quarter defensive resurgence as coach Nick Nurse used him as the primary on-the-ball defender while leaving Danny Green on the bench.

Pulling out all the stops: The Raptors have used a zone defence for very short spurts this season — one or two possessions at a time just for a change of pace — but they got back into Tuesday’s game by playing it extensively in the third quarter.

Unable to stop the Grizzlies dribble-penetration, the zone helped them to a 20-8 run that cut seriously into a 17-point Memphis advantage.

Making some shots: There were a couple of promising signs for the Raptors offensively.

Danny Green made three of his three-pointers in the first half and C.J. Miles, mired in basically a season-long shooting slump, drilled a couple of corner threes in the second quarter.

Miles hadn’t had a game with more than one made three-pointer since the ninth game of the season.

Pick up the pace: From the department of polar opposites, the Grizzlies went into the game 30th in pace (possessions per 48 minutes) and the Raptors were 12th.

Memphis promptly had its best half of scoring in the first 24 minutes with 71 points as it led by 12.

This and that: Toronto went into the game 13-1 when it led after the first quarter; after 12 minutes Tuesday it was 32-31 Grizzlies . . . Danny Green has made a three-pointer in 21 of the 22 games he’s played for the Raptors. The only blemish was an 0-for-4 night Sunday against Miami . . . Raptors used five starters for the first 9 ½ minutes of the third quarter, much longer than they’d usually go without making a single substitution.

Up next: It may be just another regular season game but Thursday will most certainly have a little extra juice. The two-time defending champion Golden State Warriors — who may have the injured Stephen Curry back in the lineup — are at the Scotiabank Arena for their only regular season visit.
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