The Memphis Grizzlies signed point guard Mike Conley to the largest deal in NBA history in the offseason, and he responded with his best start while leading the team in scoring (19.2 points) and assists (5.7). The Grizzlies will begin life without Conley, who suffered a transverse process fracture in his back in Monday’s loss to the Charlotte Hornets, when they host the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday.
Conley hit the ground hard early in the third quarter against the Hornets and was down for several minutes before being helped off the court, and the extent of the injury was made clear on Tuesday morning. The Grizzlies are down to two rookies - Andrew Harrison and Wade Baldwin - at the point guard spot and are expected to work out veteran Norris Cole, Kendall Marshall, Toney Douglas and Will Bynum. Toronto’s backcourt is fully healthy, and leading scorer DeMar DeRozan struggled to 14 points on 4-of-13 shooting Monday but Toronto still posted a 122-95 win over the Philadelphia 76ers thanks to Kyle Lowry going 7-of-9 from the floor, including 6-of-6 from 3-point range, and Ross knocking down 8-of-11 - 3-of-5 from beyond the arc - off the bench. “I feel like all of his 3s have been going in,” Ross told the Toronto Sun of Lowry. “That’s Kyle, we just expect him to make shots. I mean, it seems a little selfish, but I expect Kyle to hit 20-of-40. I’ve seen it, he’s a shooter to me, he can shoot, so that’s what you want shooters to do, you want them to shoot.”
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, FSN Southeast (Memphis), Sportsnet One (Toronto)
ABOUT THE GRIZZLIES (11-7): Center Marc Gasol was not ready to use injuries as an excuse for Memphis’ poor play of late and pointed to defensive slippage as the culprit. “Discipline; it takes a lot of discipline,” Gasol told reporters. “It takes discipline to do the job you are supposed to do. It takes discipline to trust the guy behind you and communication and coverage that we have. ... Now, it’s a matter of growing and learning and getting better at the things that we are supposed to do.” Gasol was without his frontcourt partner Monday in Zach Randolph, who missed the game for personal reasons and is questionable for Wednesday.
ABOUT THE RAPTORS (11-6): Lowry’s 6-of-6 effort from beyond the arc on Monday marked the most 3-pointers without a miss in franchise history and marked the culmination of a shooting renaissance for the All-Star point guard. Lowry shot under 40 percent from the floor in five of the first seven games but hit at least 40 percent in nine of the last 10. The Villanova product is 14-of-22 from the floor in the last two games and connected on 10-of-12 from beyond the arc in those two contests - both wins.
1. Raptors C Jonas Valanciunas (ankle) left Monday’s game and is day-to-day.
2. Memphis G Vince Carter (hip) left Monday’s game and is questionable.
3. Toronto took both meetings last season and five of six in the series.
PREDICTION: Raptors 108, Grizzlies 99