Sixers lose to Grizzlies 114-109 for second straight defeat

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Philadelphia 76ers’ Cameron Payne, right, goes up for a shot against Memphis Grizzlies’ John Konchar during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, March 6, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

The Philadelphia 76ers came into tonight’s matchup against the Memphis Grizzlies on the second half of a back-to-back and a loss to the Brooklyn Nets. In a game where they had the lead in the fourth quarter, the Sixers were outscored by eight to relinquish the lead.

Philadelphia was looking to bounce back against a Grizzlies team that somehow was even more injured than they were. The home team was very short-handed with Maxey and Lowry out, joining Melton, Covington, and Embiid on the injury report.

The Grizzlies came into the matchup missing the majority of their regular rotation, including Ja Morant, Desmond Bane, and Marcus Smart. The one regular that was available Wednesday night was Jaren Jackson Jr., who looked to help Memphis upset the Sixers in a game Philly needs to keep pace in the Eastern Conference playoff race.

Sixers/Grizzlies Game recap

Philadelphia 76ers’ KJ Martin dunks during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Memphis Grizzlies, Wednesday, March 6, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

The first quarter started and the Sixers played like they were still in a walkthrough. Memphis’ first bucket came on a wide-open three-pointer for Luke Kenner on a pass across the court from Vince Williams Jr. Some wide-open threes and bad defense forced Nick Nurse to call a timeout early down 16-8.

A lineup change after the first timeout included inserting KJ Martin, Kelly Oubre Jr, and the newest Sixers’ two-way player Jeff Dowtin Jr. That new unit was able to fight back and help get some of the scoring going but they continue to trade buckets with Memphis. Jake Lavarvia scored 10 points off the bench in four minutes of action, helping Memphis score 37 points in the first quarter.

The second quarter started with the Sixers down six points and trying to fight back with much of the Grizzlies bench unit in the game. Some aggression from Kelly Oubre Jr and Cam Payne helped Philly get back into the game. Dowtin Jr gave the Sixers some good minutes in the second quarter defensive and picked his spots offensively. He hit two three-pointers and had a nifty layup to give him 10 points in the first half.

The second half started with the Sixers trying to extend their lead against the Grizzlies. Cam Payne and Buddy Hield helped to get the offense going while Tobias Harris struggled to get anything going. Nurse ran some sets for Harris to try to get him going but he seemed very passive. Even on mismatches, he didn’t look to score. Despite Harris’ passiveness, they were able to build a double digit lead.

Tobias’ play came back to bite the Sixers in the fourth quarter. When they needed him the most he didn’t even look at the rim, turning over the ball multiple times. For the second straight night, the offense stalled in the fourth quarter dooming them. They gave up extra chances, while Memphis fought harder and wanted the win more.

Memphis outscored the Sixers 34 to 16 in the fourth quarter to get a win 115-109 on the road. Memphis was led by Jaren Jackson Jr (30 points and 11 rebounds)and also had five players in double figures. The Sixers were paced by Kelly Oubre Jr. (25 points) and Cam Payne (16 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists).

Can’t get right

Sixers Tobias harris 76ers
Utah Jazz guard Collin Sexton, right, defends against Philadelphia 76ers forward Tobias Harris (12) during the second half of an NBA basketball game Thursday, Feb. 1, 2024, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

Tobias Harris has been as inconsistent as they come this season. He was just in one of the worst stretches of his career and it seemed like he started to turn the corner over the weekend. Well tonight, he returned to his recent form. Overthinking every time he has the ball, passing when he should shoot, shooting when he should pass, and not even looking at the rim some possessions.

Harris being unable to come through for the Sixers against a lowly squad like the Grizzlies is downright putrid. If you can’t count on him during these games, what confidence will the team and fans have in him in a potential playoff setting?

No Dowtin Him

With Tyrese Maxey, Kyle Lowry, and De’Anthony Melton all out in the matchup against the Grizzlies, the Sixers only had Cam Payne as the lone rotation guard who could suit up. Two-way players Terquavian Smith and Jeff Dowtin Jr. were available to play and one had to play to spell Payne. Head coach Nick Nurse went to Dowtin Jr., who is the newest two-way player but played with the Raptors under Nurse in Toronto.

There weren’t many expectations for the two-way guard out of Rhode Island, but he needed to just play well enough while Payne was on the bench. He played much better than expected on both sides of the court. Dowtin picked his spot on offense, shooting open threes when the Grizzlies went under screens and taking open layups when presented.

He was most impressive on the defensive end, sticking to his assignment and fighting through some tough screens from Jaren Jackson Jr., ending up with 10 points and six assists on the night. If Tyrese Maxey is out an extended amount of time, Dowtin sure has earned another look and was one of the bright spots this evening.

Bringing the Energy

Philadelphia 76ers’ Paul Reed, right, struggles for a loose ball against Memphis Grizzlies’ GG Jackson during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Wednesday, March 6, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Paul Reed returned to the starting lineup against Memphis to match up with Jaren Jackson Jr. Jackson is more of a forward currently playing center for the Grizzlies. Reed matched up well with him and showed he could hang with the All-Star, until the fourth quarter when he fouled out.

Reed brought some much-needed offense but most importantly, his hustle and energy. There were multiple times he dove on the floor to get loose balls and make plays that normally win you games. BBall seems to have been reinvigorated by his move to the bench a few games ago and they are going to need solid performances from him on most nights, especially until Joel Embiid returns.