Game Review | Tough Finish Dashes Chances in Memphis

by Brian Seltzer
Sixers.com Reporter

Recap:

Over the course of a revitalizing stretch during which the 76ers knocked off multiple quality opponents, Brett Brown issued a steady dose of reminders that his team still has a few significant areas to work on.

If turnovers weren’t at the top of that list, they were close.

Despite the Sixers controlling most of Monday’s scrappy, hard-fought match-up at FedEx Forum, costly fourth-quarter giveaways ultimately proved to be a key part of their undoing in a 105-101 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies.

The Sixers, which led by as many as 15 in the second half, coughed the ball up 24 times in the defeat, just their second in the last nine games. Ten of those turns came in the final frame.

Memphis pounced on the Sixers’ miscues, scoring a 20 decisive points off turnovers in the closing period, one in which the Grizz outscored the Sixers, 31-18.

“We started the fourth period up poorly,” Brett Brown said. “I give Memphis credit, but we look at [this] game as a game we should have won. We feel we let one slip by.”

The Sixers were paced Monday by Dario Saric, who tallied 22 points (7-11 fg, 3-4 3fg, 5-5 ft) and 10 rebounds. The 20-point showing was his eighth of the season, and the double-double his seventh.

Like Saric, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot supplied the Sixers with steady production from beyond the arc. The second-year Frenchman went for a season-best 20 points (6-9 fg), on the strength of a 6 for 8 effort from beyond.

It was the Sixers’ initially efficient 3-point shooting Monday that helped them enjoy such an auspicious start. They had converted 13 of 19 attempts from deep heading into the last minute of the third quarter, but were only 1 for their last 12 the rest of the way.

Robert Covington connected on 4 threes himself, en route to an 18-point (5-14 fg) outing. After coming away with a steal with 10.4 seconds to go, he had a chance at either a tying or go-ahead field goal, but his ensuing off-balance heave from the sideline was off the mark.

“I never looked at the clock,” Covington said. “That was on me. If I would’ve looked at the clock and seen that we had more time, I never would have taken that shot.”

Joel Embiid accounted for 15 points (5-13 fg, 0-2 3fg) and 14 boards, while Ben Simmons finished with 6 points (3-8 fg), 3 rebounds, and 7 assists.

“We had a lead, and we lost it,” said Simmons. “It’s just really frustrating.”

Memphis was topped by Marc Gasol’s 19 points. Guards Tyreke Evans (18 pts) and Myke Henry (12 pts), the latter in his second career NBA game, rose to the occasion in the second half. They combined for 19 points in the fourth quarter, and were instrumental in pushing the Grizzlies across the finish line.

The Sixers were absent JJ Redick (left leg) and Jerryd Bayless (left wrist) for a second consecutive contest. Memphis, which was down Mike Conley (achilles) and Chandler Parsons (right knee), benefited from 45 bench points.

Luwawu-Cabarrot Looks Sharp Again

Starting for the second time in as many games due to injuries to JJ Redick and Jerryd Bayless, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot produced. His lights-out 3-point shooting was a catalyst for the Sixers, as he nailed his first four tries from long range.

With 17 points at the half, Luwawu-Cabarrot had already matched a season-high scoring output. He then reached the 20-point mark for the third time in his two-year career by hitting his sixth and final triple midway through the third period.

“I thought Timmy did play well,” Brett Brown said.

Luwawu-Cabarrot’s potent performance came on the heels of a breakout 16-point appearance in Saturday’s win against the Milwaukee Bucks. His past two games, both starts, the 22-year old has combined to go 11 for 18 from the field, and 9 for 13 on 3-pointers.

“He’s coming on strong,” said Ben Simmons, referring to Luwawu-Cabarrot, a fellow 2016 draftee. “He’s playing well, and playing with confidence. That’s what we need...especially because he’s had his chance to start.”

To Luwawu-Cabarrot, Monday’s 20-point outing was for naught. He said outcomes like the Sixers’ four-point loss to Memphis can’t happen.

“We just have to figure it out, turn the ball over less, and we’re going to be fine,” he said

Turnover Matters

Yes, the Sixers’ giveaways were costly Monday.

By evening’s end, Memphis had generated a 39-11 advantage in the points-off-turnovers department.

Brett Brown attributed his group’s ball security issues to three factors: “poise,” “judgment,” and “leadership.”

“When you look at the mistakes that were made...those types of words come to my mind,” said the fifth-year head coach.

The Sixers’ turnovers crept up on them gradually as Monday’s tilt moved along. They committed three in the first quarter, five in the second, then 6 and 10, respectively, in the third and fourth frames.

“We were in position to win,” Brown said.

The Sixers, though, couldn’t close it out.

Thoughts on Embiid

The afternoon of Monday’s game in Memphis, the NBA named Joel Embiid its Eastern Conference Player of the Week.

The news hadn’t reached Brett Brown when he gathered with reporters for his regular pre-game media availability about an hour and a half before tip-off. Given how well Embiid had played in recent days while steering the Sixers to a 3-0 record against some of the East’s elite, Brown wasn’t entirely surprised.

“There’s a reason why we’re 8-2 in our past 10 games,” Brown said prior to the Sixers’ loss to the Grizzlies. “Congratulations to Joel. It just confirms how important he is to us.”

Embiid, however, ended up having a challenging go against the Grizzlies. Played physically by his Memphis counterparts (Marc Gasol, with Deyonta Davis the back-up) throughout the game, the Cameroonian sat most of Monday’s third quarter due to foul trouble.

He returned in the fourth, and in all, racked up 15 points and 14 boards in 31 minutes.

Sixers Social:

Second-year French swingman Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot had the touch going early Monday, and it continued into the second half. Set up by an impressive bullet pass that Ben Simmonsn whipped down the floor, here’s a look at Luwawu-Cabarrot’s career-high setting sixth 3-pointer of the night.

Up Next:

Despite having to spend most of the end of January on the road, the Sixers will make a quick one-game stop at The Center Wednesday for a match-up with the Chicago Bulls. Chicago endured a rocky 3-20 start to the season, but then proceeded to rip off seven victories in a row, one of which was a 117-115 triumph at United Center over the Sixers. Since the start of that surge, the Bulls have compiled a 15-8 mark, winning four of five heading into Monday’s visit to Atlanta.