TORONTO — The ending of Toronto’s record streak of games with at least one three-pointer wasn’t a big deal to the Raptors.
They have much bigger problems to address.
Rudy Gay scored 21 points, including the winning basket with 0.8 seconds remaining Monday, as the Memphis Grizzlies defeated the Toronto 100-98, sending the Raptors to their eighth straight loss.
“We basically just said get a shot up,” Gay said. “We weren’t down so we wanted to go out there and make sure of one shot but also get a really good shot. I just wanted to get (defender Julian Wright) off balance and make sure that I made the right shot and not just throw one up, make sure I made a good shot, something I was happy with.”
The Raptors, who trailed by 12 points with 8:26 to play, tied the game for the second time in the final two minutes when Jerryd Bayless made a driving layup with 18.9 seconds left.
But Gay came through at both ends of the court, hitting the winner and blocking an attempted three-pointer from Sundiata Gaines on the clock’s final tick.
“It was a tough shot, he elevates a lot and it’s tough to block it,” Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan said. “We just fell one basket short. We just have to keep playing, don’t even think about the losing streak and look forward to the next game and try to get better.”
The Raptors were 0-for-13 in three-point attempts to end a string of 986 games in which they made at least one three-point shot. The streak began Feb. 26, 1999 and it ended officially with 0.1 seconds left when Gay blocked a three-point attempt by Sundiata Gaines.
“It’s not the main focus but (the three-point streak) was nice to have,” Andrea Bargnani said after going 0-for-4 in three-point attempts in a 29-point effort.
Raptors head coach Jay Triano felt the defence was good on Gay’s winning basket was good.
“We challenged it well and we had our best defender (Wright) we think on him,” Triano said. “We knew exactly what they were going to do. If you run somebody else at him then he’ll make passes. If you can get a guy to shoot a fadeaway jumper late in the game, you kind of want that.”
Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol added 17 each for Memphis (22-23), O.J. Mayo chipped in 15 off the bench and Mike Conley scored 13. Randolph added 12 rebounds.
DeRozan added 25 for the Rpators, while Bayless had 15 with 11 assists, Wright chipped in 11 and Amir Johnson had 10.
The Raptors injury list has grown so long that Sonny Weems, who missed the previous 18 games with back spasms, dressed for Monday’s game. He made his first appearance to open the second quarter and played five minutes. He returned to the game late in the third quarter and played the first three minutes of the fourth quarter and did not score and obviously was struggling.
“We tried to milk as many minutes as we could to give some of our guys a rest,” Triano said. “His shot didn’t make it 10 feet in the air, so it had no chance of going in. So you could just tell he was labouring. We thought he could help us at the defensive end a little bit but his speed isn’t quite there yet.”
Leandro Barbosa (strained right hamstring), Jose Calderon (flu-like symptoms), Joey Dorsey (strained right patellar tendon), Linas Kleiza (sore right knee) and Reggie Evans (fractured right foot) were not available for Monday’s game.
The Raptors went down by 10 points in the first three minutes of the fourth quarter, but staged a comeback.
Bargnani’s pull-up jumper and the ensuing free throw brought Toronto to within one point, then Toronto took a 92-91 lead with 3:58 to play when DeRozan made two free throws after a Toronto block and fast break forced a Memphis foul.
Toronto led 94-93, when a loose-ball foul put Wright at the free-throw line with 2:46 left, but he missed both shots.
Mike Conley’s first free throw tied the game and his layup off the rebound of his miss on the second one put Memphis into a two-point lead with two minutes left. After DeRozan’s free throws tied it, Conley made a running jumper with 1:15 to play and Memphis led 98-96.
After a Memphis miss, Bayless tied the game with a driving layup with 19 seconds left. But Gay hit a 14-foot fadeaway jumper in the final second.
“It is tough, I think Rudy just hit a tough shot,” said Bayless who had 15 points and 11 assists and was 0-for-3 in three-point attempts. “I think it’s an improvement. I think we played better defensively and offensively and we’ve got to continue to get better and when we get guys back hopefully we will. I’m not happy with the loss but I’m happy with the way we played.”
Notes: The Raptors Monday acquired centre Alexis Ajinca, a future second-round draft pick and cash considerations from Dallas in exchange for the draft rights to forward Giorgos Printezis. In the transaction the Raptors reacquired the second-round selection they sent to Dallas in June for the draft rights to Solomon Alabi. Ajinca, 22, averaged 2.9 points, 1.7 rebounds and 7.5 minutes in 10 games with the Mavericks. He was acquired from Charlotte on July 13, 2010. He is expected to be with the Raptors for Wednesday’s game with Philadelphia. …Toronto also signed guard Sundiata Gaines to a second 10-day contract. Gaines was signed to his original 10-day contract on Jan. 13.