Grizzlies flat again in loss to 76ers

By BRANDON SPECK
FOXSportsTennessee.com

MEMPHIS — Five days after giving up 121 points in its worst loss of the season, Memphis allowed only 99 points to the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday.

The Grizzlies scored only 89 though in a rare 99-89 home loss, their third of the season.

On a snowy day in Memphis, the Grizzlies (18-8) played without Rudy Gay, the team’s leading scorer. Gay, who is scoring 18.2 points per game, was not with the team because of personal reasons. Quincy Pondexter started in his place.

“No energy. They played harder than us. They wanted it more. They got open jump shots all night,” Zach Randolph said. “We didn’t play a good game. Guys didn’t hit shots. They packed it in on us in the paint like they do every night. We’ve got to take advantage of that. It can be corrected.”

There were 22 less points allowed than in Saturday’s loss to Houston, but not enough points scored. Memphis shot just 38.9 percent from the floor, making only 35-of-90 shots. Philadelphia shot 52.1 percent.

The word commitment was tossed around the postgame locker room.

“We’re not taking the same commitment we did earlier in the season,” Randolph said. “We’re not playing our game. We’ve got to get back to playing our game. We ain’t did nothing. We can’t toot our horn because we ain’t did nothing. We had a good month at the beginning of the season. We’ve got to get back to it.”

Mike Conley had the worst night for Memphis. He hit only 3-of-17 shots and finished with 10 points.

“I think guys are committed, but we’ve got to be committed for four quarters,” Conley said, “not just when things are going good. We’ve got to do it when things are not going our way.”

It was the second consecutive loss for the Grizzlies after a four-game win streak.

“The one thing that I was disappointed with tonight was our effort,” Memphis coach Lionel Hollins said. “It was a difficult night for us. It’s about effort, effort on defense, effort on offense. They did a good job of guarding the interior.”

Philadelphia had 12 blocked shots, five from Spencer Hawes. Early on, the Sixers (14-15) didn’t have an answer for Marc Gasol.

Gasol had 12 first-quarter points. His turnaround jumper gave Memphis a 16-10 lead and forced Philadelphia to take a timeout at the 6:22 mark. Gasol had 10 points by then and Memphis had missed only one shot.

Memphis took a nine-point lead, 20-11, on a Pondexter 3-pointer. Nick Young answered and Pondexter hit another 3 for a 23-13 lead.

Gasol didn’t score again until there was less than a minute to go in the quarter for a 29-24 lead. He sat quietly in his locker after the game.

“We’ve got to work harder for each other,” Gasol said. “We’ve got to do a better job of setting screens and getting open, just little things, habits.”

Saturday’s loss to the Rockets was only the second time this season the Grizzlies have allowed triple digits to an opponent. They allowed 101 in the opening-season loss to the Clippers.

The Grizzlies led 29-26 after the first quarter, but trailed 49-47 at the half.

Philadelphia used two key runs, a 13-2 spurt in the second quarter and a 13-0 run in the fourth to take a commanding 88-73 lead.

“This is a team that’s not going to let you run a lot of set offense,” Sixers coach Doug Collins said. “They are going to make you make plays, not run them.

“They defend the 3. They defend the paint.”

Memphis had one final grasp at rallying back.

Conley found Gasol at the 4:40 mark to trim the lead to 91-84, but Hawes grabbed an offensive rebound, was fouled and made 1-of-2 from the line. Gasol’s pass on the other end went through Tony Allen’s hands. Dorell Wright added one of his five 3s and Hawes added a bucket and many of the 16,055 fans made their way to the exits in a 97-84 hole.

“It wasn’t just the fourth quarter,” Allen said. “(The Sixers) won the last three quarters. They outhuslted us.”

Young hit a 3-pointer to end the 13-0 run after Conley’s pass to Gasol was off the mark. Gasol was visibly frustrated.

“I think we were just frustrated with ourselves, making bad decisions, little things in the game we normally do,” Conley said. “If we’re going to win, we’ve got to get back on D and make plays offensively.”

Pondexter scored 13 points in his fill-in role, including back-to-back 3s in the third quarter.

Wright hit five of the Sixers’ nine 3-pointers and had a game-high 28 points, while Hawes scored 20 points off the bench.

Memphis received 23 points and nine boards from Randolph. Gasol finished with 18 points, but only six in the second half.

Now, Memphis turns its attention to Denver for a Saturday home game. The Nuggets have beaten the Grizzlies twice, both times by five points.