(The Sports Xchange) - DeMar DeRozan scored 27 points, Kyle Lowry added 22 and Jonas Valanciunas led a strong defensive effort that carried the Toronto Raptors to a 99-95 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday night at FedExForum.
The Raptors improved to 22-15 on the road, the second-best record among Eastern Conference teams. The injury-depleted Grizzlies lost their fifth straight. Zach Randolph led Memphis with 16 points and the bench scored 52 points.
Valanciunas, the Raptors’ 7-foot center, finished with a career-high seven blocked shots and a team-best 14 rebounds. His inside defensive presence helped the Raptors limit the Grizzlies to 12 points in the paint in the second half. Memphis had 26 in the first half.
In addition to their defensive play, the Raptors got a key spark from reserve swingman Terrence Ross. He connected on four consecutive 3-pointers early in the fourth quarter to allow Toronto to pull ahead 87-84 with five minutes to go. The Raptors never trailed again.
Memphis cut the deficit to two points on three occasions in the final two minutes, the last time at 97-95 on two Jordan Farmar free throws with 11.8 seconds left.
The Grizzlies led by nine (56-47) early in third quarter, but Toronto denied Memphis points in the paint to recover and was ahead 74-72 entering the fourth quarter. The Grizzlies had 26 points in the paint during the first half but had only four in the third quarter.
Memphis used its reserve strength to create a double-digit cushion in the first half.
Trailing 27-23 after the first quarter, the Grizzlies built an 11-point lead in the second behind torrid shooting. The Grizzlies -- with reserves Vince Carter, Lance Stephenson, Xavier Munford, Jarell Martin and JaMychal Green -- connected on their first 10 shots and led 45-34 midway through the quarter.
The Raptors rallied in the closing minutes of the quarter to trim the Memphis advantage to six (51-46) after a 3-pointer by Cory Joseph. Randolph dropped in a short bank shot for the 53-45 halftime lead.
The Grizzlies, outrebounded 23-18 in the opening half, shot 52.3 percent from the field, including 61.9 percent in the second quarter (13 of 21). The Raptors overcame 40 percent shooting from the field by making 7 of 16 from beyond the arc.