The one that got away

STEVE BUFFERY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:51 AM ET

MEMPHIS -- Last night's Raptors-Grizzlies game had a definite Spanish flavour, but all that did was give Toronto coach Sam Mitchell a bad case of heartburn.

Because in the end, it was hustle -- more specifically, diving for loose balls and pulling down offensive boards -- that won the game for Memphis 94-88.

"We reach for them, they get on the floor for them. That's the game," a disappointed Mitchell said, after his team fell to 20-34. "When the game gets down and dirty, you got to get on the floor and do the dirty work. They outworked us."

The Raptors held a seven-point lead at the half, but collapsed in the final 24 minutes, shooting 13-for-35 from the field, and were out-scored 51-38.

The Memphis bench also had a big say in the outcome, scoring 47 points to Toronto's 23. The Grizzlies, one of the better defensive teams in the league, turned the ball over only five times.

Two of Spain's top players, Pau Gasol of Memphis and Jose Calderon of Toronto, teammates on that country's national squad, went head-to-head with a modest, but enthusiastic delegation of Spanish fans in the stands at the FedEx Forum.

The two amigos played well, but it was the Grizzlies who displayed the most grit, taking the lead for the final time with four minutes left and never looked back in a heated contest that saw the lead change 16 times.

"We stopped moving the ball," Toronto's Chris Bosh said of his team's collapse in the second half. "I guess you have to credit their defence. They rattled us a little bit, they kept us out of the paint and they kept us shooting jump shots."

With 15,385 Memphis supporters screaming, Grizzlies guard Bobby Jackson hit a three pointer with just under three minutes left to give Memphis a 88-86 lead. On the next play, Bosh was mugged attempting a dunk, but there was no call, prompting Mitchell to freak out on the sideline.

Morris Peterson was fouled with 1:20 left and the Raptors trailing by two. He nailed both to tie it at 88-88.

But that's when the home side's grit came to the fore. Shane Battier outmuscled Calderon for an offensive rebound on the next play and Eddie Jones hit a three for a 91-88 Memphis lead. On the next play, Mike James missed a layup and Bosh was forced to take an intentional foul. With 15 ticks left, Jones made both free throws to extend Memphis' lead to 93-88.

Gasol finished the game with a double-double, 21 points and 10 rebounds, while Calderon had 11 points, seven assists and four boards. Bosh led all scorers with 26, as well as nine rebounds. James had 16 points and six assists. Rookie Charlie Villanueva had 14 points and 10 rebounds.

The Raps remain on the road with games in Dallas on Saturday and then in Miami on Monday before returning home to face the Atlanta Hawks next Wednesday.

Gasol left the bench in the first quarter with Memphis ahead to have a split lip looked after (four stitches). By the time he returned, the Grizzlies were down 45-38.


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