The Toronto Raptors were on the brink of ending their winning streak, facing a 17-point, second-half deficit, but a three-point shooting show erased any worries.
The Raptors converted 10 of 17 shots from outside the arc in the second half, including seven of 12 in the fourth to pull away from the Memphis Grizzlies for a 122-114 victory on Tuesday night.
“We had a real gut check at halftime there,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said after Toronto trailed 71-59 at the break. “We weren’t really doing the things that we wanted to do, and then we came out and played a lot better in the second half.”
Kyle Lowry had 24 points and six assists, and Fred VanVleet added 18 points to lead the Raptors. VanVleet made all six shots on the night, including three from outside the arc in the fourth.
“We know I haven’t been shooting the ball well,” VanVleet said. “That’s no secret, so to get back on track a little bit is always fun.”
Kawhi Leonard finished with 17 points and 10 rebounds, and Serge Ibaka scored 16 points as the Raptors won their sixth straight game and maintained the best record in the NBA (18-4).
The defeat marked the second time in two games that Memphis lost a double-digit lead early in the third by allowing its opponents to dominate after halftime. The Grizzlies squandered a 13-point lead in their loss to the New York Knicks on Sunday.
“They put a ton of pressure on you. Their style won the fight,” Memphis coach J.B. Bickerstaff said of the Raptors, later adding: “I think we got rushed, to be honest with you. They turned up their defensive pressure, and we got sped up. Again, we play a certain style and we weren’t comfortable with some of the shots because they were rushed.”
Marc Gasol led Memphis with 27 points, making 10 of his 14 shots. Mike Conley added 20 points and six assists.
The barrage of three-pointers from Toronto in the middle stages of the fourth keyed a 17-2 burst. The Raptors would never trail again.
The Raptors steadily cut into the deficit in the second half before the three-point shooting display. Three straight three-pointers from OG Anunoby, Delon Wright and VanVleet pulled the Raptors even at 105-all near the midway point of the fourth.
“I felt like we didn’t play defence at all,” Grizzlies guard Shelvin Mack said. “Even in the first half, giving up 59 points in a half is unlike us. Scoring 71 points, you get kind of disguised about how bad we were defensively.”