By Sean Kennedy (@PhillyFastBreak)
Final from Memphis. pic.twitter.com/1gCKVLwUiv
— Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) January 23, 2018
Memphis 105, Philadelphia 101 – Box Score
Oh, how quickly we forget. The Sixers had won 7 of their past 8 games. Their only loss in 2018 came in London to the Celtics on a court where one of the baskets had a crooked rim. Blowing a huge lead to suffer a hugely disappointing loss? That was the 2017 Sixers’ problem. Even when the Bucks were able to briefly narrow the gap Saturday night, that was framed as youthful exuberance on Philadelphia’s part since they soon after blew Milwaukee’s doors off for an easy win.
Well, time is a flat circle and the turnover problems that have haunted the Sixers all season long came back to bite them Monday night in Memphis. The Sixers had an uninterrupted lead from the opening tip and led by 15 late in the third quarter. They were shooting the ball tremendously well, particularly Dario Saric (3-4 from three for game-high 22 points) and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot (career-high 6 made threes on 8 attempts for 20 points). TLC stepping up the last two games has been huge for a Sixers team incredibly thin on the wings with both J.J. Redick and Jerryd Bayless sidelined.
With the Sixers completely in control, there was no reason to think a team consisting of Marc Gasol, Tyreke Evans, and a host of guys only Summer League diehards would recognize would mount much of a challenge. But that’s when the Sixers decided to hand the game away. Philadelphia committed a whopping 10 fourth quarter turnovers. Cross-court passes that sailed too high, unnecessary passes into traffic, you name the sloppy giveaway, the Sixers probably did it Monday night.
In the end, Philadelphia coughed the ball up 24 times as a team and Memphis won the points off turnover battle, 39-11. Add somebody named Myke Henry (yes, with a “Y”) on a two-way contract getting hot for the Grizzlies (12 points in 16 minutes) and there’s your ballgame.
- Weird to say for somebody who had 15 points and 14 rebounds, but it was an off night for Joel Embiid. Going up against one of the best defensive centers in the league in Gasol, Embiid shot just 5-13 from the floor. He also missed three consecutive free throws in the closing minutes that ended up being costly. Overall, Embiid just wasn’t displaying the same fire we usually see from him. I wonder if his swollen hand was bothering him at all. Let’s hope to see his usual world-destroying self Wednesday night against the Bulls.
- Terrible, terrible play by Robert Covington in the final seconds. Ben Simmons managed to force a steal and the Sixers had the ball down just 2 with plenty of time left. Instead of taking time to get a good shot off, Covington shot a turn-around three while fading away on the sideline. It barely grazed the rim and fell into a Memphis player’s arms to seal the game. That lack of awareness was not great, Bob.
- I hate these Richaun Holmes DNP-CDs.