Despite good offensive nights from their two stars, the Sixers were not able to overcome the feisty Grizzlies, falling 117-109 Friday night in Memphis. Joel Embiid had 35 points, 11 rebounds, eight assists and three blocks but still had his hands full with Steven Adams. Tobias Harris made a season-high five three-pointers but it wasn’t enough as the Sixers got killed on the glass and in transition.
Here are some thoughts at the buzzer.
- Like the rest of his team, Tobias Harris looked a lot better at the start of this game than he did in Cleveland. After dealing with an illness and going 0 for 7 from the field on Wednesday, Harris scored the Sixers’ first eight points of the game. His teammates followed suit, as the team rode 12 of 24 shooting to a 30-point first quarter.
- It was a hot start for both teams, as Grizzlies star Ja Morant also had it going on early, with 11 of his 28 coming in the opening quarter. Memphis matched the Sixers, shooting 50 percent from the field as well as the Sixers took just a one-point lead into the second.
- It felt like it had been a while that the Sixers looked this hopeless with Joel Embiid on the bench, but the Grizzlies went on a 20-4 run during the end of the first and the beginning of the second. While this undermanned backcourt may be running out of gas, it is alarming how bad the offense looked during this stretch.
- A big positive from the first half was how well Embiid handled Steven Adams. Adams is one of the few players who can handle Embiid from a strength standpoint, and has tended to guard the big fella pretty well over their careers. Embiid had 17 first-half points without having to do too much, which is typically what those defenders draw out of him.
- The Grizzlies on the other hand, continued to gash the Sixers’ defense. From a matchup standpoint, Memphis can really expose the flaws of this Sixers team. They beat Philly in fast break points 17-2 in the first half, and grabbed four more offensive rebounds, helping them take a 10-point lead into the half.
- I did not know Tobias Harris had this in him.
- The first half may have gone to Embiid, but in the third quarter, the battle down low went to Adams. Adams had just as many offensive rebounds himself (eight) than the entire Sixers team through the third quarter, including the ones he grabbed over Embiid to start an 8-0 Grizzlies run.
- The Sixers tried to regroup with a timeout, but were completely disorganized, leaving Embiid to chuck up a three that Adams block. That possession summed up the night for the Sixers: lackadaisical and out of sync.
- Unlike Cleveland, the Sixers didn’t roll over and die in Memphis. They didn’t start to make a dent in the lead until halfway through the fourth, but they were able to cut the lead to as little as five before the Grizzlies pulled away.
- Embiid showed a level of engagement that he hadn’t earlier in the game, but it was too little, too late. Even during their comeback, he couldn't keep the Grizzlies off the offensive glass. The final score was definitely closer than the game felt.
- The Sixers will look to salvage this road trip when they take on the Houston Rockets Monday night. They could get some much needed reinforcements then, as it has been reported that James Harden could make his return.