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Jan 21, 2024 5:33 pm

Unfamiliarity a familiar theme as Raptors host Grizzlies

The revamped Toronto Raptors aim to advance the process of getting to know each other better Monday night when they host the injury depleted Memphis Grizzlies.

The Raptors recently traded OG Anunoby, Precious Achiuwa and Pascal Siakam and added RJ Barrett, Immanuel Quickley and Bruce Brown.

The lack of familiarity amidst their own roster was exposed Saturday in a 126-100 road loss to the New York Knicks, particularly in the third quarter.

Raptors coach Darko Rajakovic said that during the third-quarter swoon his team needed to communicate better and help each other more.

“Everybody’s kind of walking on egg shells,” Rajakovic said. “They don’t know how to communicate with each other. We’ve got to lift each other.”

The Raptors have lost six of seven.

The Raptors and Knicks played Saturday for the first time since completing a deal in late December that sent Anunoby, Achiuwa and Malachi Flynn to New York for Barrett, Quickley and a second-round pick.

Barrett had 20 points and eight rebounds and Quickley had 12 points and a season-best 11 assists against the Knicks.

Scottie Barnes, who has become the Raptors’ top player after Siakam was traded to the Indiana Pacers last week, was 4-for-14 from the field and had just nine points.

Jakob Poeltl (ankle) remained out for Toronto.

“We have a lot of young pieces, a lot of young talent that needs time to play with each other to figure out things,” Rajakovic said recently. “For me, and for us, (it’s) to learn what they can bring, but also for us to teach them the style of play and how we want to play offensively, defensively and all of that. It takes time.”

New York had a 61-31 advantage in rebounds.

Rajakovic has talked to his team about a “win-the-day mentality.”

That’s the approach that we really can only control and do at this point,” Rajakovic said. “What can we do today that’s going to help our players, that is going to help our roster, is going to prepare us well for every night to be ready to go out there and compete.”

But most important he said is, “How do we develop this roster and how do we develop those players?”

The Grizzlies, who lost 125-96 Saturday to the host Chicago Bulls, are also dealing with a reshuffled lineup. They are without Ja Morant (shoulder), Marcus Smart (finger) and Desmond Bane (ankle).

“I thought we gave great effort in the first half, only gave up 50 points in the first half,” Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins said. “I thought our defensive game plan execution was really good. Our offense really just set us back tonight.”

The Grizzlies have lost four of their past five games.

At Chicago, Jaren Jackson Jr. led the Grizzlies with 26 points. Vince Williams Jr. had 14 points and five rebounds and Luke Kennard added 14 points and six assists. Two-way signee Scotty Pippen Jr. made his first appearance for the Grizzlies and scored three points in five minutes.

The Raptors defeated the Grizzlies 116-111 at Memphis on Jan. 3. Quickley scored 26 points for the Raptors and Siakam added 24 points.

Quickley shot 8-for-18 from the field, including 5-for-8 on 3-pointers.

Morant had 28 points for Memphis and Jackson added 24 points and four blocked shots.

Rajakovic served as an assistant coach for the Grizzlies for three seasons (2020-23).

–Field Level Media

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