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Grizzlies Out Grit-and-Grind Shorthanded Sixers

By Sean Kennedy (@PhillyFastBreak)

Memphis 96, Philadelphia 91 – Box Score

As the old saying goes, don’t worry if you miss a tough Sixers loss, because another one is right around the corner. One night after blowing a double-digit lead to Denver, Philadelphia had a tough assignment, traveling to Memphis on a back-to-back to face the Grizzlies without Joel Embiid, Robert Covington, Jahlil Okafor, and Jerryd Bayless (not to mention Ben Simmons and Nerlens Noel). The only thing working in the Sixers’ favor was the fact that Memphis had played a full 60 minutes on Monday themselves, winning a double overtime game over the Pelicans where star center Marc Gasol recorded a triple-double.

The remaining 9 healthy Sixers able to take the court put forth a spirited effort. Dario Saric had his third straight terrific performance, dropping 17 points on 6-12 shooting (3-6 3PT), to go along with 7 rebounds. The pride of Croatia came through in crunch time yet again, hitting a jumper with just inside of 2 minutes left to propel the Sixers ahead, 91-89. Sadly, those were the last points the team would score.

The Grizzlies scored on the next two possessions in classic, Memphis grit-and-grind fashion. First, Zach Randolph (12 points, 14 rebounds) grabbed an offensive rebound and converted the putback, then Marc Gasol was fouled by Richaun Holmes and drained both free throws. Gasol was once again the difference maker for his Grizzlies club on the night, tallying 26 points and 12 rebounds.

Philadelphia had a chance to tie in the closing seconds, and head coach Brett Brown drew up a gorgeous play out of the timeout to spring Nik Stauskas wide-open for a corner three. Unfortunately, Sauce’s attempt caught nothing but front iron, and Sixers fans were denied the second overtime game against Memphis this season. The loss marked Philadelphia’s 8th straight defeat and tied franchise-worst mark with 23rd straight loss on the road.

The Sixers remain on the road, heading to the Big Easy to face the Pelicans Wednesday night. It will be good to see old Philadelphia favorite Jrue Holiday out there. He’s back on the court with his wife Lauren fortunately doing very well after having surgery to remove a benign tumor from her brain. Plus, the Process versus the Brow should be quite a show.

Other Game Notes:

  • A big factor in the Sixers loss was the team going just 13-26 from the foul line. Philadelphia is 26th in the league in foul shooting this season at 72.1%.
  • Nik Stauskas has expectedly cooled down after his hot stretch last month. He was just 1-8 from three on the night and is now 4-24 in 4 December games. Stauskas is still doing some good things out there; the team just needs his shooting to normalize somewhere in-between the two extremes.
  • Ersan Ilyasova scored a team-high 23 points, but shot just 7-19 and 4-13 from three. However, even when his shooting isn’t quite there, Ilyasova is always active on the court, as his 17 rebounds would attest. I could do without the heinous flopping, but I do enjoy how willing he is to take charges and get scrappy for loose balls.
  • Getting the start with Embiid and Okafor both out, Richaun Holmes didn’t have the biggest game, but did put up 10 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 blocks. The blocks were especially encouraging, as Holmes continues to grow as a rim protector, which will be his needed role when he inevitably replaces the surely-to-be-traded Nerlens Noel.
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