TORONTO, March 14 (Xinhua) -- Toronto Raptors fought off the physicality of the Memphis Grizzlies in a 99-86 victory on Friday night in NBA action.
With the victory, Toronto improves to 37-27 on the season with 18 games remaining before the playoffs.
Head coach Dwane Casey was very pleased with the physical mindset his team competed with in the game.
"I don't mean this in a bad way because I love the style of defence they play, but the only way you challenge bullies is you hit them first," said Casey respectfully of Memphis' playing style after the game. "You got to have a physical mentality against a team like that."
With an All-Star front court of Zach Randolph and reigning defensive player of the year, Marc Gasol, Toronto struggled at the beginning of the game against the duo.
Down by as many as nine points in the early part of the second quarter, Toronto's increased physicality took over and never looked back in the rest of the game.
"I don't think we did (challenge Memphis' physicality) in the first quarter, but we did in the second and they didn't respond," said Casey. " We competed on offence, we were physical offensively. That's the style of basketball we've been growing and playing as a team."
In the end, Toronto's front court of Jonas Valanciunas and Amir Johnson outscored Randolph and Gasol 35 to 24. Valanciunas recorded a season and game-high 23 points and 9 rebounds.
"It was not easy," said Valanciunas after the game. "We battled really hard and showed that we can win."
With Friday victory, Toronto improves to 31-7 on the season in games where opponents have scored less than 100 points.
Toronto's defence ranks fifth in the league in holding opponents under the century mark with 38. Chicago leads the way with 51 while Indiana (49), Memphis (44) and Charlotte (43) round out the top four.