Hedo Turkoglu is wearing a mask to protect a broken bone under his right eye, but there is no covering up the emotional turmoil the Toronto Raptors forward has endured over the last week or so.
Turkoglu was excused from Toronto's final game before the all-star break (Feb. 10 against the Philadelphia 76ers) so he could tend to a "family illness" back home in Istanbul. He rejoined the Raptors last Tuesday, and had one practice under his belt before last night's game against the Memphis Grizzlies.
The inactivity, combined with the stress of a private family matter, was obviously weighing on Turkoglu as he struggled mightily in Toronto's 109-102 overtime loss to the Grizzlies (27-26) before 16,829 fans at the Air Canada Centre.
The win halted the Grizzlies' five-game losing skid, while snapping the Raptors' win string at three. It was Toronto's first loss in its last nine home games.
Turkoglu's failures were easy to point out, misfiring on all five of his field-goal attempts and scoring just one point on a free throw, while turning the ball over three times in less than 30 minutes of playing time. But Toronto head coach Jay Triano was not about to throw the big off-season acquisition under the bus.
"He wasn't the only guy who struggled," Triano said. "When you think about what he's gone through the last week, instead of knocking him down, we've got to try and pick him up and get him back in the fold with us.
"He's a big part of this team and he will be going forward. And it's not like you can't play him. He's going to be on the floor when the games matter."
After leading by seven points (93-86) with less than three minutes left in regulation, the Raptors will lament this as one which got away. After a sluggish start, they had battled back from as many as 16 points down in the first quarter.
"I liked the way we bounced back," Triano said. "We didn't quit and we had a chance to win the basketball game and should have."
Raptors all-star forward Chris Bosh did all he could to try to pry out a win, scoring 16 of his game-high 32 points in the fourth quarter. Bosh also had 10 rebounds, four assists and two blocks on his scorecard, but it all went for naught in overtime, where Rudy Gay saved his best for last.
The 6-foot-8 forward logged eight of his team's 12 points in the extra time to sink the Raptors - including a tough, 14-foot pull-up jump shot in traffic that put Memphis up for good, 103-102. Gay would finish with 29 points and eight rebounds, while teammate Zach Randolph also enjoyed a big night with 24 points, 11 rebounds and five assists.
The Raptors started slow and dug themselves a deep hole late in the first quarter, before making a game of it. And they appeared to have it sewn up with less than three minutes left, when Bosh powered up from underneath the basket for a layup and a 93-86 lead.
Bosh howled with emotion as he headed back down the court and the crowd roared in kind. But Memphis weren't through, as O.J. Mayo drained a three-point shot and Randolph made a game-saving drive with 1.7 seconds left to force overtime.
Point guard Jose Calderon provided a big lift off the Toronto bench, chipping in 12 points, six rebounds and a game-high nine assists in more than 22 minutes of court time.
He said it is not like the Raptors to allow games like this to slip away.
"We just have to keep working," Calderon said. "It's tough because we were playing well at home and these are the types of games we need to win. They have beaten us twice this year, so I don't know."
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