Ten first quarter points and an uncharacteristic 16 turnovers were too much for the Sixers to overcome Monday night.  The Grizzlies were able to complete the two-game series sweep over the 76ers 102-91 in Memphis, a win in which they held the lead the entire evening.  The Sixers (26-29) are now 5-15 when they commit more turnovers than an opponent.

This loss was the complete opposite of the January 28thcollapse in Philadelphia but the feeling of disgust is the same exact emotion Sixers fans are feeling.  If you put together the fourth quarter cave in and Monday nights first quarter the Grizzlies combined to outscore the Sixers 68-31.  Ten points happens to be lowest output in a quarter all season and the quarter included seven turnovers. 

It looked like third grade girls basketball at some points.

In this matchup, each team has distinct advantages.  The Grizzlies frontcourt is one of the strongest in the league.  Both Gasol and Randolph are also passing big man who set each other up underneath almost like a one-timer goal in hockey.  Z-Bo was forcing double teams and posted 21 points 10 boards and a team high seven assists.

The Sixers were supposed to have the upper hand with the ever present amount of ball-handlers and outside shooters.  And our perimeter defense has been a top five component to our success since December.  Monday night though the Grizzlies had a +15 assists/turnover ratio while the Sixers finished the evening at -2.  Role players Tony Allen and Sam Young combined for 22, mostly on drives to the hoop.  And Mike Conley shook of a hideous scoreless first half and sank 22 in the second, including a dagger three to put the Grizzlies up 90-80.

This was the worst execution by the starting unit in 2011.  Elton Brand led the way with 13 points but he was completely dominated down low.  Andre Iguodala had four sloppy turnovers and looked like he was playing as if he just rolled out of bed.  Jrue Holiday played decently with 10 points and five assists but too often he was caught out of position on defense.  Conley exposed his unpredictable defense in the second half.

Surprise, surprise; the bench was forced to come to the rescue, and they almost were able to save the drowning Sixers like a lifeguard at the community pool.  Lou Williams, who ranks second for Sixth Man in the recent ESPN award polls, had 18 points on 7-for-7 from the line.  Thaddeus Young’s 16 second quarter points entirely reenergized his team to finish the quarter with 34, cutting the halftime deficit to a reasonable 11 points.  Young finished with a game-high 23.

Most of you will probably whine about Lou Williams over-dribbling the ball in Memphis.  I’ll argue that he was the only guard making plays though.  His one-handed monster dunk in the second energized the team (Too bad the Sixers couldn’t get a stop on the ensuing Memphis possession to build on the dunk.)  .  He also hit what seemed like a big three and hit three free throws as part of an 8-0 run in the third that trimmed the lead down to a one point advantage at 71-70.

Memphis was just too hot — now winners of 9-of-11 — and too tall for us.  Rudy Gay left the game before halftime with a shoulder injury and OJ Mayo played just six minutes in the game.  Every 50/50 ball ended up in Memphis’ hand.  If you were watching the game and looked at the stats after you’d be shocked about the Sixers rebound numbers (44-37.)  They controlled the pace all evening.

Call me crazy but I think Memphis (currently the 9thseed in the west) is as good as Orlando and Atlanta this season.  The Randolph/Gasol/Gay tandem is good enough to matchup with Bynum/Gasol/Odom.  Imagine if the Grizzlies didn’t butcher the OJ Mayo and Thabeet picks and instead selected Russell Westbrook and Steph Curry.  Can you say dangerous?

We are now 4-21 when trailing in the fourth quarter.  Teams like the Grizzlies push the Sixers guards out way past beyond the arc knowing that feeding the ball inside is the best option to while leading the 7-6.  Memphis knew even without Rudy Gay that AI9 poses a minimal threat in leading this team to a comeback.  In his last three games Iguodala is shooting 22.3 percent and is barely averaging above 10 points.

Darius Songaila was in for eight minutes and has played 26 minutes the past five games.  Mo Speights has played 21 ticks all month, averaging just above 1 ppg., after scoring nearly 9 ppg. in January. Some beat reporter close to the team needs to find out exactly what Speezy did to ruin his relationship with Doug.  Speights vented via his Twitter account last night following his DNP.    

Overall this one was a stinker, but the Sixers can fade the Grizzlies from their memory with a bounce back win tonight against the Houston Rockets. 


Philadunkia Notes :

  • We have said it several times over the last two years in our “Fo with the Foes” previews of Sixers vs. Griz games, Memphis is a horrible matchup for the Sixers and Doug Collins admitted as much after last night’s contest saying, “That team is a nightmare matchup for us.  They are big, strong – they just rocked us in that first quarter.”
  • Of course has the highlights of another Sixers L to Memphis.  

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