Sixers Unable to Overcome Slow Start, Fall to Grizzlies

Written By Roy Burton On Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Back on January 28, the Philadelphia 76ers suffered their most heartbreaking loss of the season, a 99-94 defeat at the hands of the Memphis Grizzlies.

And considering some of the debacles that they've been a part of this year, that's saying quite a bit.

Less than three weeks later, with the memory of that game still fresh in their minds, you'd think the Sixers would come into the FedEx Forum firing on all cylinders, eager to exact revenge.

That wasn't the case on Tuesday night.

Led by Mike Conley, who scored all 22 of his points after halftime, the Grizzlies defeated the Sixers 102-91, sweeping the season series and preventing the 76ers from earning their first three-game road winning streak of the year.

Coming into the game, Memphis had won 16 of its last 20 at home, and early on, it was easy to see why. But to say that the Sixers had a bad first quarter would be a gross understatement.

Marred by 8 turnovers and a period-ending 18-2 run by the Grizzlies, the Sixers found themselves down 26-10 after the first 12 minutes. As a team, they shot 5-for-17 from the field to start the game, with the 10 points setting the low-water mark for the worst scoring output that they've had in any quarter this season.

The Grizzlies eventually built their lead to 18 with 1:57 remaining before halftime, even after losing Rudy Gay midway through the 2nd period to a left shoulder injury.

The Sixers came out of intermission fairly strong, outscoring the Grizzlies 31-22 in the 3rd quarter and even cutting the Memphis lead to a single point. However, they just couldn't make it over the hump as the Grizzlies led the game from start to finish.

Zach Randolph continued his recent domination of the 76ers, finishing with 21 points, 10 rebounds and 7 assists. When the two teams matched up at the end of January, Randolph tallied 22 points and 12 boards in the Memphis win at the Wells Fargo Center.

The lone bright spot for the Sixers was the play of their bench, which has been stellar all season long, as Thaddeus Young led all scorers with 23, while Lou Williams added 16.

As a unit, the Sixers starters' were rather pedestrian against Memphis, with only Elton Brand and Jrue Holiday reaching double-figures. Besides, when you turn the ball over 10 times more than your opponent does (17 to the Grizzlies' 7), it's hard to win in the NBA no matter who you're playing.

With only one game to go before the All-Star break (a Wednesday night contest at Houston), the loss eliminated any hope the Sixers had of finishing at .500 before the league takes a few days off this weekend for the festivities out in Los Angeles. Even so, with a victory against the Rockets, the Sixers would match their win total from all of last year.

To reach that mark heading into the All-Star break would be a tremendous accomplishment for Doug Collins and his young team. However, they have their eyes on a much bigger prize, and the battle for that starts in earnest next week.

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