Grizzlies at Sixers preview
By ALAN FERGUSON
The Memphis Grizzlies have boosted their chances of earning a fourth consecutive playoff berth by quickly bouncing back from their losses in the last three months.
The Grizzlies will try to do that again Saturday night while sending the host Philadelphia 76ers to a franchise record-tying 20th consecutive defeat.
Memphis (38-27) has lost back-to-back games just once since Dec. 20, compiling a 28-12 record. The Grizzlies, though, are only one game ahead of Phoenix in the race for the final spot in a competitive Western Conference.
They couldn't extend a four-game win streak Friday, falling 99-86 to Toronto in the second of three straight road games. Zach Randolph led five players in double figures with 16 points and no other teammate had more than 12.
"It is disappointing," said guard Mike Conley, whose team had also won six of its previous seven. "We've been playing very good basketball, we've been executing very well."
Memphis will try to win for the sixth straight time following a defeat by adding to the 76ers' dreadful streak. Philadelphia (15-50) is one loss shy of matching its 20 in a row from Jan. 9-Feb. 11, 1973, a season in which the franchise posted the NBA's worst all-time record at 9-73.
That skid is tied for the fourth-longest in one season in league history and seventh-longest overall. Cleveland dropped a league-record 26 in a row in 2010-11.
The 76ers have already set a team mark with 15 consecutive home defeats and another would put them in a tie for the NBA's second-longest such skid. Dallas dropped 19 in a row at home in 1993-94.
Philadelphia, however, is coming off a respectable performance against East-leading Indiana on Friday. Despite getting outshot 58.2 percent to 38.9, the 76ers were within three points of the Pacers with 2:15 to go before letting them score the next seven.
"We need every break we can get if we are going to beat a team," first-year coach Brett Brown said.
Thaddeus Young had 25 points and a career-high 10 assists Friday, his first double-double since Feb. 21. He also had six rebounds and three steals.
"I think, for the most part, we played as a team and we did very well. Down the stretch, we just had a few miscues," Young said. "We're going to continue to keep fighting and try to figure out a way to get a win."
Memphis, which is 17-8 against East teams, is facing Philadelphia for the first time since a 103-100 win at the Wells Fargo Center on Jan. 28, 2013. The Grizzlies split last season's two meetings but have won four of five in the series.
They've also taken three in a row in Philadelphia after losing 10 of their first 13 games there.
Marc Gasol had 27 points in last season's visit, matching the third-best scoring effort in his career. He averaged 22.5 points on 63.3 percent shooting in the two matchups in 2012-13.
Gasol had just eight points Friday, his fewest in 12 games.
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