Earlier this season, the Philadelphia 76ers were one of the last teams to suffer consecutive losses. At the moment, they are in the midst of a season-high four game losing streak after an 89-76 pounding they took Tuesday night against the Memphis Grizzlies. The Atlantic Division lead is still at four games over both the New York Knicks and Boston Celtics and the 76ers will go into the All-Star break this weekend as the division leader—but it may be time to panic.
If there was any hope the 76ers were going to bounce back from a heartbreaking loss in Minnesota Sunday night, it disappeared shortly after the opening tip. The 76ers scored a season-low 10 points in the opening frame, making just 4-20 shots. Fans watching the game got to see both sides of the spectrum. While the 76ers looked lethargic and out of it, the Grizzlies looked fresh and determined to put their loss Monday behind them, and quick. The Grizz scorched the defense of the 76ers for 30 first quarter points, and were led by former 76ers big-man Marreese Speights and uber-reserve O.J. Mayo.
In a game where 76ers coach Doug Collins decided to go with Andres Nocioni as his starting power forward due to Elton Brand being out with a hand injury, Speights enforced his will (something the 76ers dreamed he’d do while a 76er) for six of his twelve points in the first. While he never could get on Doug Collins’ good side in Philly, Speights has had a resurgence in Memphis mainly due to the fact he is receiving minutes that were hard to come by in Philadelphia. Speights never averaged more than 16 minutes a game with the 76ers and his poor play often reflected Collins’ lack of confidence in Speights’ consistency. It looks like Speights has finally developed some consistency at the four for Memphis, which is what the Grizzlies were expecting out of him when they dealt for him in early-January. In his previous 10 games, Speights has averaged 10.8 PPG and 8.9 RPG in 28.4 minutes a game. With Brand and Spencer Hawes ailing this season, a 76ers fan has to wonder what life would be like if Speights got this type of playing time with the 76ers.
Jumping back to Tuesday night, and reality, the 76ers used a 14-22 shooting performance in the second quarter to make it a 47-42 game at the half. However, the 76ers couldn’t keep the momentum they seemed to gain before the half and reverted back to their poor shooting ways in the third. The bench, the 76ers well touted strong point, had only 12 points after three quarters and had little impact in a game they were probably needed the most. Thaddeus Young and Lou Williams each only contributed eight points and combined to shoot 5-24 from the field. The 76ers relied on Jrue Holiday and Andre Iguodala to provide the offense, but while Holiday added 22 points and Iguodala had 11 points, both failed to score a basket in the fourth quarter. This is the sixth straight game that Iguodala has not made a field goal in the final period.
76ers fans have to be jealous of the performance the Grizzlies got out of their All-Star center Marc Gasol. Once known just as Pau Gasol’s brother, Marc Gasol added another double-double with 15 points and 14 rebounds. The 7’1, 265 pound frame of Gasol had no match on the roster of the 76ers and tonight’s performance was just another example of why Gasol deserves to go to his first All-Star Game this season.
-The 76ers travel to Houston to face the Rockets Wednesday night. The 76ers went 2-0 against the Rockets last year.
-Lavoy Allen had 14 points and 5 rebounds in his sixth straight start. Rookie counterpart Nikola Vucevic was hampered by foul trouble and added just two points and one rebound.
-Rudy Gay was held to 1 of 7 shooting through three quarters and had just six points before going 2-3 in the fourth, including 2-2 from downtown. Gay finished with 14 points.
About the Author
Written by Mike Rapine
Graduated last year from Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania with a degree in Mathematics with a focus in Statistics. I was a member of their baseball team and overall have a sense of sports from not just the average fan's perspective. Born and raised in the suburbs of Philadelphia, where we fall in love with our sports teams each year, despite the preconceptions of a playoff demise ultimately happening. Obviously, any opinions are personal in nature and should be taken as my own.