Toronto Raptors head coach Nick Nurse didn't like the way his team showed up defensively in Thursday night's 119-106 home loss to the Memphis Grizzlies. Nurse was particularly critical of his players' effort in trying to slow down Ja Morant and company, per Josh Lewenberg of TSN Sports.
Nick Nurse: “I don’t know if the play tonight gives me much optimism at all. It’s pretty unacceptable with the effort we gave.”
Although Morant was held to only 19 points on 9-for-19 shooting from the field, he was still able to find several ways to skewer the Raptors, as he dropped a total of 17 dimes. Overall, Memphis recorded 37 assists, suggesting that the Raptors simply had so many holes on their defense which also allowed the Grizzlies to shoot 50.5 percent from the field. Toronto surely could've done better to tighten up the gaps on its leaky play on that end of the floor. By excellently moving the ball, the Grizzlies also managed to torch the Raptors for a total of 13 3-pointers on 29 attempts from behind the arc.
The absence of Fred VanVleet, who is second on the team in steals per game, also made it harder for the Raptors to contain Morant in the backcourt.
The Raptors are not usually that soft on defense, as evidenced by the fact that they are top-10 in the league with just 111.4 points allowed per game, though they are also just 17th overall in defensive rating with 113.0 points surrendered per 100 possessions. Moreover, teams are shooting 49.0 percent from the field against Toronto, which is another red flag for the Raptors.
Toronto will look to rebound when it hosts the Phoenix Suns Friday night.