It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.
The first 40 minutes of basketball were some of the most inspiring basketball Brett Brown's team had played all season. The Sixers followed up a 16-8 close to the third quarter with a 15-9 sprint to start the 4th, building up a lead with 7:39 left in the game that was seemingly insurmountable.
Some would have called it a schedule win, with Memphis having won a double overtime thriller at home the night before. Even so, the Sixers executed on both ends of the court at a level that they rarely have this year, leaving Memphis, who entered the game 17-4 on the season, with few answers.
Then the final 7:39 happened.
Turnovers, quick shots, and bad defense left the Sixers in the midst of a collapse they were powerless to stop, with Memphis outscoring the Sixers 32-14 over the last 7+ minutes of regulation.
"That's a cruel loss. That is a very cruel loss," Sixers head coach Brett Brown said after the game. "It's a cruel loss for a bunch of young guys that put themselves in an incredible position to get a fantastic win."
"I want to stand here and tell everybody that it's a great learning experience, and there is some truth to that," Brown said. "The truth of the matter is that's a gut-wrenching loss. That's a fact. I feel for those guys."
At 7:39 left in the game, Michael Carter-Williams had 13 points, 11 assists, and 7 rebounds. He had shot 6-12 from the field and committed only one turnover to that point.
After making his final field goal of the night with 6:53 remaining in the 4th quarter, Carter-Williams would go 0-5 with 5 turnovers the rest of the game. Perhaps most egregious was his defense on Mike Conley Jr, who hit 5 or 9 three pointers on his way to a career high 36 points, including the game-tying three pointer as time expired.
Carter-Williams would finish the game with his second triple-double of the season, finishing with 16 points, 11 rebounds, and 11 assists, while shooting 7-18 from the field and committing 6 turnovers.
After the game, Brett Brown said that the combination of Carter-Williams missing an uncontested layup with under a minute left, followed by Mike Conley making what Brown described as a circus shot to send the game into overtime, influenced the way that Michael Carter-Williams approached the extra period.
Michael Carter-Williams admitted as much after the game.
"I was pretty upset that the game even got to overtime, and I let it get to me. I can't," Carter-Williams said. "I was just terrible in overtime."
Robert Covington, who was inserted into the starting lineup in place of Henry Sims. led the Sixers with 24 points and 9 rebounds in a game-high 45 minutes played. Covington has now scored 20 points in 4 of his last 5 games and is averaging 19.3 points over his last 6. Covington was signed from the D-League in mid-November.
Tony Wroten finished with 17 points in 19 minutes off the bench, his second game back since returning from a sprained right knee that cost him 6 games.
After two turnovers in a 1 minute, 20 second span in the 4th quarter, Wroten did not play in the last 5:20 of the 4th quarter or in the overtime period.
"I definitely want to be out there. I'm a competitor. That was the coach's decision, that's what he wanted to go with," Wroten said after the game. "Coach, that's what he gets paid for. We get paid to play."
"That was a game where I wanted to win that big, because that was the team that traded me," Wroten said. "I was doing everything in my power to tell my team to get that win."
The Sixers also received a big boost from Hollis Thompson, who scored 21 points on 7-8 shooting, including a perfect 5-5 from three point range. Thompson had shot just 8-33 from three point range over his previous 7 games.
Should The Sixers Have Fouled?
2 free throws by Hollis Thompson put the Sixers up by 3 with 4.6 seconds left to play. The Grizzlies then inbounded the ball to Marc Gasol, who held the ball for nearly 2 seconds before finding Mike Conley. Conley was then able to use a Gasol screen to make the game-tying three pointer as time expired that sent the game into overtime.
Many will argue that the correct play when up 3 with only seconds remaining is to foul the opposing team before they have a chance to get a three point attempt up. With Gasol showing little interest in looking his own shot from beyond the arc, the opportunity was certainly there.
Brett Brown, who watched all of the Grizzlies made three point field goals after the game before addressing the media, said he did not consider fouling at the end.
"As far as just coming down and fouling them, I'm going to back our defense," Brown said. "I've just seen the end of the game, [and] there aren't many regrets as far as timeouts or could you have, should you have."
"The play at the end, it's a circus shot," Brown said."
Furkan Aldemir Coming To Philadelphia
Last night I reported that Furkan Aldemir will be coming to Philadelphia today. A league source has confirmed to LibertyBallers that Aldemir has received his visa. His contract, which according to Adrian Wojnarowski is already agreed upon, should be finalized in the next few days.
Memphis' Hot Three Point Shooting
Memphis made 8 of 12 three point shots in the 4th quarter, helping them overcome an 18 point fourth quarter deficit.
Brett Brown watched the three's his team gave up before speaking with the media.
"Some of them we lost [Conley]. We lost Vince. Some of them were defensive mistakes," Brown said. "Some of it's disturbing, some of it you shake their hand. We'll wake up tomorrow and we'll move on."
"You always second guess yourself. You always want to be perfect. I want to be great for those guys [in the locker room]," Brown said. "You're always wondering what you can do differently."
"You just can't blink or think without seeing reality. What the hell just happened? We were up 18," Brown said about watching the film. "I need to see the truth. I need to see what just happened."
Memphis 8 three pointers in the 4th quarter included:
- One where Tony Wroten gambled for a steal, causing the rest of the team to over-rotate.
- A transition three after a turnover where the team struggled to locate their guys in transition.
- Hollis Thompson getting caught up in a screen.
- Michael Carter-Williams losing Conley to help on a baseline drive.
- The final play where they should have fouled.
Some of the others were contested, but there was no doubt some very serious defensive miscues that helped the Grizzlies get back in the game.