Going into Wednesday night’s game, the Philadelphia 76ers had lost six of their last seven games, and had lost six straight road games. Their opponent, the Memphis Grizzlies was 12-2 at home and has one of the best records in basketball. It might have appeared to be a fairly easy night for the Grizzlies who had beaten the 76ers 3 straight times before Wednesday.
However, there are no sure wins in the NBA. The 76ers proved that with their 99-89 win over the Grizzlies. Memphis was playing without leading scorer small forward Rudy Gay who missed the game for personal reasons. Philadelphia improved to 14-15 and the Grizzlies dropped to 18-8. Memphis is now 2 full games behind the San Antonio Spurs in the Southwest Division.The Spurs beat the Toronto Raptors 100-80 Wednesday night.
Memphis jumped out to an early lead in the first quarter against Philadelphia. The Grizzlies were up by 7 several times in the quarter, but could never extend the lead beyond that. The Grizzlies took a 3 point lead into the second quarter, 29-26. Memphis nursed a three point lead early in the second, until Philadelphia took a one point lead with 9:11 left. The Grizzlies would go on an 8-0 run to go back up by 7 points, as Philadelphia didn’t score for nearly four minutes. The Grizzlies would expand the lead to 45-35 with 4:28 to go in the quarter. However, Memphis would only score 2 more points for the rest of the quarter. The 76ers closed the quarter on a 14-2 run to take a 49-47 halftime lead.
Memphis would briefly take a 50-49 lead early in the quarter but wouldn’t lead again for the rest of the quarter. Philadelphia would take a six point lead several times in the quarter, but the Grizzlies never trailed by more than that. They would stay with striking distance at 75-70 going into the fourth.
In the fourth Memphis would pull to within 75-73 with just over 10 minutes to go in the quarter. They would get no closer though as Philadelphia would go on a 13-0 run to go up 88-73 with 7:50 left. Memphis would get not closer than 7 points at 91-84 with just over 4 minutes to go. The 76ers would hold on for the 10 point win.
Philadelphia shot 52.1% from the field including 9/16 from 3 point range. The 76ers made 16 of 23 free throws. Philadelphia had 38 rebounds, 23 assists, 9 steals, 12 blocks, and 16 turnovers. The Sixers had 16 fast break points and 36 points in the paint.
Forward Dorell Wright started for Jason Richardson who missed the game with a lower back strain. Wright took advantage of his chance to start by scoring 28 points, including 5 three pointers on 8 attempts. He also added 6 rebounds, 2 blocks, an assist and a steal. Center Spencer Hawes had 20 points, 9 rebounds, 5 blocks, 3 steals, and an assist. Forward Thaddeus Young had 13 points, 2 rebounds, 3 steals, and 4 blocks. Point guard Jrue Holiday had 13 points, 9 assists, and 4 rebounds. Guard Nick Young had 12 points, 4 rebounds and 2 assists. Forward Evan Turner scored only 1 point but he did have 9 assists, 6 rebounds, 2 steals and a block.
The Grizzlies were ice cold shooting making just 35 of 90 shots (38%) including 5/15 on three point shots. The Grizzlies made 14 of 17 free throws. Memphis had 37 rebounds, 22 assists, 10 steals, 4 blocks and 13 turnovers. The Grizzlies had just 2 fast break points and 42 points in the paint.
Forward Zach Randolph had 23 points, 9 rebounds and 4 steals. Center Marc Gasol had 18 points, 8 rebounds, 8 assists, 2 blocks and a steal. Quincy Pondexter started in place of Gay. He had 13 points, 5 rebounds, an assist, and a steal. Point guard Mike Conley, Jr. had 10 points, 5 assists, 3 rebounds, and 2 steals. Forwards Darrell Arthur and Marreese Speights scored 8 and 7 points respectively off the bench.
Memphis coach Lionel Hollins was upset at his team’s effort Wednesday night. “It’s effort. It’s effort on defense, and it’s effort on offense,” Hollins said. “We get the ball, we have to run up the court with some pace. We have to move the ball quickly. We’ve got too much ball-sticking. We have too much walking.”
Yes, the Grizzlies were playing without their leading scorer, but they didn’t do a lot right tonight. They couldn’t buy a shot, gave a poor effort on defense, and had 12 shots blocked. Give credit to the 76ers, but this was just an ugly game for the Grizzlies. Unfortuantely, it was their second in a row after they were routed 121-96 by the Houston Rockets Saturday night. Next up for Memphis is a home game against the Denver Nuggets Saturday night.