Welcome to the 10 things recap by theScore features writer William Lou, which serves to highlight emerging trends from a Raptors perspective.
Resilient: The lowest-scoring team in the league shocked the Raptors by scoring 71 points in the first half and racing out to a 17-point advantage, but the Raptors responded with a 63-38 run in the second half to come away with a very impressive road victory.
Trapped: No team has been as aggressive against Kawhi Leonard as the Grizzlies were tonight. They sent blind doubles at him anytime Leonard got the ball below the free-throw line, and it stalled the offense in the first half. It didn't help that the Raptors were committing all types of silly turnovers (Serge Ibaka trying to pass over Marc Gasol to a cutting Danny Green, OG Anunoby trying to thread a pass through two defenders along the baseline) which got the Grizzlies going in transition.
Regression: However, part of the Grizzlies' success was also attributable to luck. Memphis went 9-of-10 on mid-range shots through three quarters despite some pretty decent contests by the Raptors. Gasol was flinging shots up as soon as it hit his fingers, almost as if he was setting a volleyball, and he was still swishing jumpers.
Frustration: Toronto nearly came undone before halftime, as both Ibaka and head coach Nick Nurse picked up techs. Ibaka got his for mocking Gasol's flop on a moving screen, while the normally polite Nurse reamed out an official after Kyle Lowry was shoved over without a call.
Chess: Having seen the Grizzlies overload on Leonard in the first half, Nurse made sure to station shooters in the corners to capitalize off of kickouts. Toronto made a season-high 18 threes because the Grizzlies kept collapsing.
Adjustment: Nurse also made the right call by benching C.J. Miles in the second half and tabbing Leonard to lead the bench. Miles was getting torched by Omri Casspi in the first half, and gritty defense was the only way the Raptors would be able to sustain a comeback.
Aggressive: Lowry was particularly sharp in the second half, as he took over for Leonard as the primary scorer. Lowry was able to play off the ball when he shared the floor with Fred VanVleet, and that allowed him to come around screens and hit some easy catch-and-shoot looks. Lowry finished with 24 points on 14 shots.
Perfection: VanVleet had his best game of the season and was the Raptors' best player in the fourth. He kept a lid on Mike Conley with his pesky on-ball defense, and he essentially iced the game with two threes from the right wing off passes from Leonard. VanVleet finished with 18 points on a perfect 6-of-6 shooting.
Crucial: Ibaka was quietly excellent in the win. His positioning on the mid-range pick-and-pop with Lowry was so stellar that it even fooled one of the league's best defenders in Gasol. Ibaka was also able to extend his defense and hedge at the 3-point arc late in the fourth, which really helped to shut down Conley.
Response: There was a brief moment in the fourth when the Grizzlies drilled a three to push the lead back to nine. Toronto looked tired and could've folded at that moment, but they got three successive triples from Anunoby, Delon Wright, and VanVleet to even the game. The Grizzlies looked demoralized from that point onward.