MEMPHIS - Rudy Gay's performance in Monday's double-overtime loss to the Rockets was historic for all the wrong reasons.
The Raptors' forward scored a team-high 29 points and made some big shots - most notably a buzzer-beating three pointer that forced the second overtime period - but a day later, most of the discussion surrounded the shots he didn't make. All 26 of them.
Gay attempted a career-high and franchise topping 37 field goals, hitting just 11 of them.
Since 1985, an NBA player has attempted 37 or more field goals in a game 28 times (per Basketball-Reference.com). Gay's percentage (.297) is the lowest on that list of 28 single-game performances -- ironically sharing that distinction with former Raptor Damon Stoudamire, who also went 11-for-37 with Toronto in 1996, the franchise's second season.
Sitting on the sideline at the FedExForum, both knees wrapped in ice, Gay fielded questions from a cluster of reporters ahead of his first return to Memphis as an opposing player. Most of the local scribes asked about the trade that sent him to Toronto last winter, his six-plus years spent with the Grizzlies, his recent marriage or the upcoming birth of his son. However, his poor shooting night was the elephant in the arena.
Finally, the Toronto Sun broached the subject, asking Gay about the hoard of Raptors' fans that took to social media after Monday's loss, seemingly hoping for - some expecting - an apology or admission of guilt from the team's leading scorer.
"No," Gay responded emphatically. "Why? Why should I apologize?"
"Obviously I'm not the only one who had trouble scoring out there and we were still winning," he said following practice Tuesday afternoon. "[I] took the team to double overtime. Really I could care less what happens outside this court. If my teammates had a problem with me doing that or trying to give us a chance to win than I'd have a problem but people [can] say what they want to say."
"Apologize?" he repeated one more time in disbelief.
To his point, Gay was not the only member of the Raptors launching bricks on Monday. DeMar DeRozan was just as bad, albeit in fewer attempts, shooting 6-for-25 while Kyle Lowry went 6-of-16. The team shot 33 per cent as a whole including an abysmal 18 per cent in the second quarter.
"It was just one of those games where guys were looking to me to make baskets," said Gay, who is averaging 19.3 points on 36 per cent shooting in Toronto's first eight games. "Sometimes they went in and little bit more [often] than that they didn't go in. A lot of us are having trouble, not just this team [but] the whole league is having trouble scoring. That's something we have to come in and work on."
"Today I put shots up just to make sure it doesn't happen again."
Ball movement was the focus of Tuesday's practice for Dwane Casey's club, who registered a season-low 10 assists the night before. Gay, the hub of Toronto's offence, is largely responsible for the lack of ball movement that has plagued this team throughout the early portion of the season but as Casey noted, it's on everyone to ensure the offence is flowing and the ball-watching stops. When and if they can correct their stagnant offence, Gay and the rest of the Raptors should benefit from easier looks at the basket.
"We've got to get better ball movement," "We've got to get the ball moving, get the ball hopping. If [Gay and DeRozan are] going to catch it teams are going to try to take them out, they've got to move the ball and quarterback out of their position."
Rudy returns to Memphis
Wednesday's road tilt against the Grizzlies will mark Gay's first return to Memphis as a visiting player since the three-team trade that sent him to Toronto on Jan. 30. Gay was selected eighth overall by the Rockets in the 2006 draft and was immediately traded to Memphis, where he played the first six-plus seasons of his career.
"Obviously for me it's going to be a little bit more emotional," Gay said. "But other than that we still have to win. We've taken steps in the right direction but for us to scale back because I'm back in Memphis is selfish."
Gay averaged 17.9 points and 5.8 rebounds in 479 games with the Grizzlies. He remains their franchise leader in steals, games and minutes played, ranking second in total points.
"It's a lot different [in Toronto], I can say that," Gay admitted. "It's a great city. Obviously it's different being here in Memphis so long. It was a transition but now I'm adjusted."
What does he miss most about Memphis?
"My house," he replied with a chuckle. "I live in a condo now so that's one thing I do miss."
Gay will host the team and coaching staff for dinner at his house Tuesday evening but he joked he may not even be able to eat the food his wife prepares after getting hit in the jaw on three separate occasions in Monday's game. The forward also tweaked an ankle in the fourth quarter of that contest and has been nursing a sore knee.
"I don't even know how I got up this morning," he joked. "But I did and if it's time to work I've got to do it."
A special visit
Following Tuesday's practice the Raptors players, coaches and staff paid a visit to St. Jude Children's Hospital.
"It's something that's close to my heart," Casey said prior to the visit. "Being from Kentucky we used to donate a lot to St. Jude's. Cancer's been in my family and a friend of mine, George Karl had it."
"So this is a way for our players to give back. This is what the NBA should be about and is about."