76ers Fall to Grizzlies, Lose 11th Straight

The Philadelphia 76ers fell to the Memphis Grizzlies 104-90 Tuesday night, dropping to a league-worst 1-29 on the season.

Vince Carter and the Memphis Grizzlies defeated the Sixers 104-90 Tuesday night | Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Vince Carter and the Memphis Grizzlies defeated the Sixers 104-90 Tuesday night | Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The 76ers could have really used a win Tuesday night against the Memphis Grizzlies, their last home game before heading out for a six game Western Conference road trip.

While the Sixers were competitive for much of the first half, they eventually fell to the Memphis Grizzlies 104-90 at the Wells Fargo Center.

The loss, the 11th straight for the Sixers, dropped Brett Brown‘s team to 1-29 on the season.

Turnovers have been a problem for the 76ers this year — for the entire duration of the rebuild, actually, as they’ve led the league in turnovers in each of the last three seasons — and tonight was no different. The Sixers committed 28 turnovers on the night, which the Grizzlies turned into 36 points.

The Sixers turned the ball over 26 times in a 92-84 loss to the Grizzlies in Memphis a couple of weeks ago.

“I think the physical side of things bothers our young guys more than I wished it did,” Brown said about the turnovers. “[Opponents] close out on our shooters, so we play a catch and go game and we get too deep in a crowd, or we’re trying to make things happen in a physical sense that we just can’t back up.”

The turnovers wasted an otherwise solid effort. The Grizzlies shot 10-13 on the fast break, generating 21 points in the process. When the Sixers were able to confine Memphis to a half-court setting the Grizzlies shot just 41.7% from the field and made just five three pointers on the night.

At one point late in the first quarter the Sixers committed live ball turnovers on three consecutive possessions, all of which resulted in layups for the Grizzlies and a quick 6-0 run for the visiting team.

“You feel like there’s a run, and then you throw it away,” Brown continued. “[They] come in bunches. It’s deflating. To come down and just cough it up after you’ve moved your feet and played decent defense for most of the game. You see a hung head from time to time.”

The Sixers used a 9-0 run late in the second quarter to take a brief 42-40 lead before Memphis closed the half out on a 13-5 run. Memphis then built on that lead early in the third quarter, outscoring the Sixers 18-9 to start the period to build a 15 point lead.

“I feel like every coach sees the world through a different lens. You see philosophically how you think this sport should be played,” head coach Brett Brown said. “[I want] to build our program through defense, and a hard, competitive spirit and edge, which will produce running and taking off [in transition].

“You say ‘Can this roster deliver that?’ I still think they can. And I’m going to fight for that,” Brown continued. “I want to get it back.”

We talked about that lost defensive identity earlier this week, and it played a factor once again tonight, as the Sixers forced the Grizzlies into just 12 turnovers on the night. Combined with the turnover struggles of their own, the end result was the Sixers finishing the game with 16 less points scored off turnovers than the Grizzlies.

One positive on the night was rookie big man Jahlil Okafor, who led the Sixers in scoring with 18 points on 8-12 shooting. Okafor scored just 9 points on 3-11 shooting the last time these two teams met in late November, and had considerably more success scoring on Marc Gasol, one of the best defensive big men in the game and the recipient of the 2013 Defensive Player of the Year award.

“I think [Okafor’s] learning curve is really impressive in that I know he wants to be coached, I know he’s responded to things,” Brown said. “I think the improved play is really just based on time. It’s further along, and he’s a little bit better for that.”

Okafor is averaging 19.4 points per game on 49.6% shooting from the field over his last 8 games.

The Sixers brought Nerlens Noel off the bench for just the third time this season, splitting up their two natural centers in an effort to match up with Memphis, who now starts the perimeter-oriented Jeff Green at power forward in place of long-time franchise staple Zach Randolph. Noel finished with just 5 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists and a blocked shot in 26 minutes of play.

Sixers work out John Lucas III and Chuck Hayes

After the game Sixers head coach Brett Brown confirmed a report by ESPN that Brown had met with John Lucas III and Chuck Hayes.

“That is true,” Brown said. “I think when you go through this period of time, it’s all on the table.

“It’s always about what’s best for the program,” Brown continued. Maybe it’s Jerry Colangelo, and bringing in that wisdom. Maybe it’s Mike D’Antoni coming in and helping me. Maybe it’s players that we’re looking at that can form a future. It’s all on the table.”

Lucas III, the son of former Sixers head coach John Lucas, last played for the Detroit Pistons during the 2014-15 season and has a career average of 4.8 points per game. Hayes, a long time member of the Houston Rockets with career averages of 3.7 points and 5.0 rebounds per game, played two games with Houston earlier this year. Before that he appeared in 29 games with the Toronto Raptors last season.

While the Sixers met with, and worked out, both Lucas III and Hayes, Brown said nothing is imminent.

“I think that we’re looking at a lot of things, but to say they will join the team at this stage is not true,” Brown said.

Quick Thoughts:

* Tony Wroten continues to struggle. With the Sixers in the midst of a back-to-back, Brown elected to sit Kendall Marshall tonight and start Wroten at the point guard spot. Wroten shot just 2-9 from the field and finished with 5 turnovers in 29 minutes of play. On the season Wroten still has more turnovers (29) than made field goals (22).

* Wroten will sit tomorrow night in Milwaukee, as neither Wroten or Marshall are appearing in both ends of back-to-back games at this time as they work their way back from surgeries to repair torn ACL’s suffered last year. Instead, Brown will start former Milwaukee Buck Kendall Marshall at the point tomorrow.

* Robert Covington‘s struggles continue, as Covington scored just 8 points on 3-9 shooting, including 0-4 from three point range, and committed 6 turnovers in the process. He did have 8 rebounds in 23 minutes of play.

* Brett Brown’s starting guards combined to go 6-14 from the free throw line, including 3-6 from Isaiah Canaan and 3-8 from Tony Wroten. The rest of the team shot 15-18 from the free throw line.

* Hollis Thompson, who had averaged just 4.6 points per game over his previous nine games, had one of his better games of the season, scoring 16 points on 6-9 shooting off the bench, including 4-6 from three point range.

* Nik Stauskas attempted two shots. That wouldn’t normally be noteworthy, but Stauskas hadn’t attempted a shot in his previous three games, going nearly 33 minutes of play without a shot attempt. Stauskas played just under 4 minutes on the night and went scoreless for the fourth consecutive game, and has fallen out of Brett Brown’s regular rotation.

Derek Bodner covers the 76ers for Philadelphia magazine’s new Sixers Post. Follow @DerekBodnerNBA on Twitter.