5 Takeaways from Memphis Grizzles game

Nov 23, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Memphis Grizzlies guard Mike Conley (11) looses the ball while shooting during the second quarter of the game against the Philadelphia 76ers at the Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: John Geliebter-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia 76ers lost 104-99 by the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday, Nov. 23 at the Wells Fargo Center in an exciting double overtime game.

After a hard-fought six periods of basketball, the Philadelphia 76ers were unable to come out on top.

On Wednesday night at the Wells Fargo Center, the Sixers were defeated 104-99 by the Memphis Grizzlies.

The loss halted the Sixers’ win streak at just two games, and the last time they won three games in a row was Jan. 4 2014. With the defeat, the Sixers drop to 4-11 on the year, while the Grizzlies improve to 10-5 with the triumph.

Ersan Ilyasova led the Sixers with 22 points and 12 rebounds (both were team-highs). In a season-high 27 minutes, Joel Embiid scored 12 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, but also committed a game-high 7 turnovers, while Robert Covington netted 19 points with 10 rebounds, 3 steals and 3 blocked shots.

For the Grizzlies, Marc Gasol had 27 point to lead all scorers to go along with 4 rebounds, 3 steals and 3 blocks. Memphis point guard Mike Conley had 25 points, 9 assists and 9 rebounds, While JaMychal Green had a team-high 11 rebounds.

Of the 10 Sixers players who saw game-action, eight committed at least one turnover. The two that did not give the ball away were Hollis Thompson (who played 27 minutes) and T.J. McConnell (7 minutes).

Despite the loss, the Sixers are still in the midst of their best start in three seasons, and here’s five takeaways from Wednesday night’s contest:

Nov 21, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (21) reacts as time winds down on a victory against the Miami Heat at Wells Fargo Center. The Philadelphia 76ers won 101-94. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

1 – The Whole Team is Looking More Confident

Earlier in the season, Nik Stauskas and Robert Covington were nearly boo’d out of the City of Brotherly Love. Now, just a couple of weeks later, the duo is playing some of the best basketball of their respective careers, and there’s a simple explanation for it —  Confidence.

And you can see it every time they touch the ball.

At the beginning of the season, it didn’t even seem like Stauskas wanted to be on the court. Now, every time he steps onto the hardwood, he’s greeted by an ovation from the crowd on hand at the Wells Fargo Center. He is having success driving through the hole and connecting on his shots from 3-point range, and the hometown fans have taken notice.

At the same time, guys like Covington, Jerryd Bayless, Hollis Thompson and Ersan Ilyasova all look equally confident.

Don’t forget about rookie phenom Joel Embiid, either. Despite going up against some of the most talented defensive centers in the league already this year, he calls for the ball each offensive possession. It doesn’t matter who is guarding him, Embiid believes that he can beat them.

That kind of confidence is contagious, and as of late (especially during Wednesday’s game) the team that had just 10 wins a season ago has looked confident against some of the best teams that the NBA has to offer.

The Sixers are off to their best start to a season in three years, and if they want to keep the momentum going, they’ll have to continue to keep their confidence at a high level.

Nov 23, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers forward Robert Covington (33) grabs a rebound during the first quarter of the game against the Memphis Grizzlies at the Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: John Geliebter-USA TODAY Sports

2 – Covington is Finding His Groove Again

Robert Covington has been a streaky player this year. At times, he’s looked like one of the Philadelphia 76ers’ worst players, and at other times, he’s looked like their best.

After Wednesday’s 19-point (6-for-10 field goals, 4-for-7 3-pointers) 10 rebound, 3 steal and 3 block effort, it appears that Covington is back on the upswing.

For perspective, this tweet was sent out in the second quarter of Wednesday night’s game:

In a team-high 46 minutes of playing time on Wednesday, he was one of the most effective players on the Sixers’ roster. Aside from stuffing the stat sheet, he did well breaking up plays defensively, dove on the ground for loose balls and also fought of defenders in heavy-traffic rebounding situations in the paint.

At different points throughout the game, he was covering the Grizzlies’ big men and also their guards. He’s as versatile as a defender as the NBA has to offer.

Earlier this week, I wrote that once Covington finds his shot again, he’s going to be trouble for the opposition. On Wednesday, he connected on 60 percent of his shot attempts and was a problem for the Grizzlies from start to finish.

And he was one of the main reasons that the Sixers were able to hang around as long as they did during Wednesday’s game.

Nov 21, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers guard Jerryd Bayless (0) dribbles against the Miami Heat during the first quarter at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

3 – Bayless Looks Like He’s Getting Comfortable

In his second game with the Philadelphia 76ers, Jerryd Bayless appeared to be more comfortable on the court every time the ball touched his hands.

He was consistently getting through the lane, finding his open teammates, crashing the boards and playing tough defense.

Bayless finished Wednesday with 18 points (third-highest on the team behind Ilyasova’s 22 and Covington’s 19), 6 assists (team-high) and five rebounds (third-highest on team) in 30 minutes of action. He also drained one of the game’s biggest shots on a 3-pointer (which was his first made 3-pointer in a Philadelphia uniform) to tie the game at 91-91 with 43.2 seconds remaining in overtime.

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To close out second quarter, Bayless hit a fast break floater off the glass before heading into the locker room for halftime.

It was just his second game back following a wrist injury, but he already looked significantly better than he did in his first game with the team on Monday.

As the season progresses, expect him to take on a larger role on both ends of the floor.

He was signed in the offseason to be the Sixers’ starting point guard this year, and as long as he continues to produce with the limits he’s given, he’ll be inserted into the starting lineup sooner rather than later.

Nov 23, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers guard Jerryd Bayless (0) attempts to shoot the ball as Memphis Grizzlies forward Jarell Martin (1) defends during the third quarter of the game at the Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: John Geliebter-USA TODAY Sports

4 – Turnovers Continue to Hurt Sixers

It’s simple: if you lose the turnover battle, there’s a very good chance that you’re going to lose the game.

On Wednesday, the Sixers committed nearly twice as many turnovers (26) as the Grizzlies (15), and in the end, it ended up costing the Sixers the game.

While Joel Embiid is unquestionably the best player that the Sixers have, he has been turning the ball over at a pretty high rate. Heading into Wednesday, he led the team with 3.9 turnovers per game. Sergio Rodriguez (2.7) was the only other 76ers player to average more than 2.0 turnovers per game coming into the Grizzlies game, and he’s the starting point guard (meaning there’s a higher probability that he’ll turn the ball over, given the amount of passes he’s throwing).

On Wednesday, Embiid committed a game-high 7 turnovers in the defeat, while Robert Covington had 6 and Jerryd Bayless 5.

Brett Brown summed it up pretty well here:

Despite the turnovers, the Sixers were able to hang with one of the Western Conference’s better teams, and you can only imagine how the game would have turned out had the Sixers not turned the ball over and frequently as they did on Wednesday.

So far this year, the Sixers lead the NBA in turnovers per game with 17.9 per contest.

If they can manage to start limiting the offensive giveaways, expect the team to be in a lot more close games than they’ve been accustomed to over the past few seasons.

Nov 23, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (21) is fouled by Memphis Grizzlies forward Zach Randolph (50) during the fourth quarter of the game at the Wells Fargo Center. The Grizzlies won 104-99 in double overtime. Mandatory Credit: John Geliebter-USA TODAY Sports

5 – Sixers Would Have Benefited From Embiid in 2OT

Joel Embiid exceeded his 24-minutes restriction by three minutes on Wednesday, and he was visibly frustrated when the medical staff informed him that he was not cleared to play in the second overtime.

See below:

While it’s unfortunate for both Embiid and the Sixers that he has not been cleared for a full-game’s workload yet, the organization definitely made the right decision by sitting him in the second period of extra time.

Would the team have had a better chance to win with Embiid out there for double-OT? Absolutely.

You have to remember, though: Embiid missed his first two seasons because of a foot injury. Risking re-injury for a random Wednesday-night win in November just doesn’t make sense. The team would rather have him out there for the next five years than an extra five minutes in overtime, and rightfully so.

Think about it: could you imagine if something would have happened to him in that second overtime that cause some sort of (re)injury? In the situation the Sixers were in on Wednesday night, the risk did not out-weigh the reward, but after the game, Brett Brown said it’s still difficult to keep Embiid sidelined during crunch-time situations like the one they faced against Memphis.

While on the bench, Embiid said that he was rooting for his teammates to pull out the victory.

Embiid will rest during the Sixers’ next game, which will take place on Friday night at home against the Chicago Bulls.

Will the Sixers be able to pick up an Embiid-less victory on the day after Thanksgiving? We’ll find out on Friday night.

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