Game Recap | Team Fights, but Bows to Memphis in OT
It was an effort of the commendable variety, but a second overtime game in as many days was too much to overcome.
With only nine available players on their roster, the 76ers (8-6) threw everything they had at the Memphis Grizzlies (7-4).
The Grizz, idle since Wednesday, proved to have a little more left in the tank, and pushed through for a 112-106 victory Saturday at FedEx Forum.
Just 24 hours earlier, the Sixers had fended off the Charlotte Hornets in South Philadelphia for a one-point overtime win of their own. Then came an overnight flight that didn’t get into Memphis until the wee hours Saturday morning.
Such is life in the NBA, but that doesn't necessarily make it easy.
Nevertheless, the Sixers were the ones that came out and set the tone with a spirited approach. They led by as many as 16 points in the second quarter, and were up 63-50 at the break.
In some ways, the game just went on to long.
Brett Brown acknowledged his group’s fight.
“They did do that,” he said. “I thought thhe fight our guys had was fantastic, but you walk out of here disappointed you weren’t able to show that result of a win.”
Thrust into an expanded role, T.J. McConnell, by now to no surprise, was ready when called upon, finishing with a season-high 16 points (7-8 fg) and seven assists.
He was particularly key in crunch time, at one point having a say in 10 straight points that bridged the fourth quarter and overtime. His back-to-back baskets in the final four minutes of regulation gave the Sixers a 100-98 lead.
While Brown wouldn’t use fatigue as an explanation for Saturday’s eventual loss, some of the numbers in overtime were noteworthy. The Sixers went 2 for 8 from the field, missed all six 3-point tries, and and were outrebounded by three.
“I think we fought,” said Ben Simmons. “Obviously, we were down a few players...but I think overall we tried to handle the game the right way.”
Another factor that conspired against the Sixers throughout the evening was turnovers. The team committed 23 in all, which led to 25 points for Memphis.
Grizzlies guard Mike Conley scored 23 of his game-best 32 points after intermission.
JJ Redick paced the Sixers with 20 points (8-12 fg, 3-6 3fg), while Joel Embiid (14 pts, 16 reb, 5 ast) and Simmons (18 pts, 14 reb, 5 ast) generated their 13th and 11th double-doubles, respectively.
Click here for a complete box score.
McConnell Makes Most of Minutes
As a result of the limited number of active bodies the Sixers had available Saturday, T.J. McConnell’s playing time spiked.
He wound up logging a season-high 34 minutes, and set a season-high with 16 points.
Prior to Saturday’s tilt, McConnell had been a healthy scratch in three of the Sixers’ previous five games. He had played more than 10 minutes just once since the second week of the season.
Of all the things you can say about McConnell, perhaps the top item on the list is that during his four seasons with the Sixers, he has earned Brett Brown’s trust implicitly.
So Brown wasn’t entirely shocked Saturday that, in a pinch, McConnell was ready for action.
“I mean, that’s who he is. And for all of us back in Philadelphia, when you just sort of look at him, and you watch him not play, his body language and mannerisms on the bench, you can see instantly he is a leader. He’s selfless. He’s an incredible part of our fabric, a huge part of our culture, so to see him come into the game and do what we’ve seen when he’s playing, I’m proud of him, and he deserves that type of performance.”
The hard-nosed McConnell, meanwhile, wasn’t content to settle for a good personal showing, or a competitive performance from a thin roster.
“I’m not a big moral victory guy, but everyone went out there and just kind of stepped up. It was a next guy up mentality. We came up short, so it wasn’t good enough.”
Other Reserves Get More Reps, Too
Neither Furkan Korkmaz nor Jonah Bolden have played a lot with the Sixers this season. But on Saturday, an all-hands-on-deck approach was needed.
So, the two second-stringers were given a decent chance to get more reps.
Korkmaz connected on 12 points (4-7 fg, 3-6 3fg) in 18 minutes. Bolden was appearing in his second straight game, and registered three rebounds, two steals, and a team-high plus 12 rating in just 11 minutes.
“I think Jonah has a skillset, but more importantly for me, a mentality, that he’s a modern-day type of NBA player,” Brett Brown said of the 2017 second-round pick. “I think that Furkan, he’s not bashful.”
Saturday marked Korkmaz’s seventh game of the year. Bolden has played in five games with the Sixers, plus two more with the franchise’s NBA G League affiliate, the Delaware Blue coats.
‘Gram of the Game:
The video of this monstrous throwdown from Markelle Fultz is good, but the still is where you’ll find the nice details.
The Sixers will return to American Airlines Arena for the first time since facing the Miami Heat twice at the venue during last year’s Eastern Conference Semifinal round. The Sixers won both contests, and will tip with Miami Monday at 7:30 PM EST.