In many respects, the NBA is a lot like the NFL: If you commit too many turnovers, your chances of winning aren’t that good.
And when you commit 24 turnovers in an NBA game (including 10 in the fourth quarter), winning is extraordinarily difficult. The Philadelphia 76ers learned this the hard way tonight as their two dozen miscues led to 39 points and a 105-101 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies.
Everyone got in on the action: Six different players committed at least three turnovers on Monday. A particularly horrible stretch of mistakes sparked a 21-6 fourth quarter run by the Grizzlies which saw a 89-79 Sixers’ lead turn into a 100-95 Memphis advantage over the span of six minutes.
Even despite all of the nonsense, the Sixers still had a chance to win the game late. After Joel Embiid split a pair of free throws with 15.8 seconds left to cut the Grizzlies’ lead to two, Ben Simmons stripped Tyreke Evans in the backcourt on the following possession. Despite having time to set up a better play (the 76ers were out of timeouts at this point), Robert Covington missed an ill-advised three-pointer, Mario Chalmers grabbed the rebound, and that was all she wrote.
I don’t know if this was the worst loss of the 2017-18 campaign, but it’s definitely on the Mount Rushmore of poor performances. We’ve seen them blow double-digit leads before (their largest advantage tonight was 15), but to completely fritter away a win where you’re the more talented team AND you’re dominating the glass (48 to 32) is darn near inexcusable.
It’s especially unfortunate because based on the first two quarters on tonight’s game, it appeared as if we were going to be treated to The TLC Show. Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot was on fire from jump, knocking down his first four attempts from beyond the arc.
TLC finished with 20 points (all of which came in the first three quarters) as he and Dario Saric (who scored a team-high 22 points to go along with 10 rebounds) paced the Sixers’ offense for most of the evening. The pair combined to shoot 9-for-12 from beyond the arc and, as a team, the 76ers knocked down 14 of their 31 three-point attempts (45.2 percent).
Embiid finished with 15 points and 14 rebounds, but never really appeared to get comfortable establishing position in the low post. Memphis is one of the league’s best teams when it comes to protecting the paint, and their defensive strategy also forced Ben Simmons (6 points, 7 assists, 4 turnovers on 3-for-8 shooting) to settle into more of a facilitator role tonight.
The Philadelphia 76ers are the worst team in the league when it comes to protecting the basketball, but this was sloppy by even their low standards. This is actually the second time this year where they turned the ball over 24 times, but when they did it against Minnesota back in December, they compensated by shooting 50 percent from the field.
Speaking of the North Star State... earlier today, Brett Brown promised his team that if they won their next eight games, they could take a charter flight to Minneapolis to attend the Super Bowl.
They won’t be going to the Super Bowl.
The Sixers return home to face the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday night before embarking on a four-game road trip which kicks off January 26 against the San Antonio Spurs.