Instant Observations: 76ers Blow Double-Digit Lead, Fall to Undermanned Grizzlies

Instant Observations: 76ers Blow Double-Digit Lead, Fall to Undermanned Grizzlies Philadelphia 76ers forward Paul Reed (44) dribbles the ball against the Memphis Grizzlies during the second quarter at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia 76ers (35-27) collapsed in the fourth quarter, blowing a double-digit lead and falling 115-109 to the Memphis Grizzlies (22-41) on Wednesday night at the Wells Fargo Center.

Kelly Oubre Jr. finished with 25 points and four rebounds off the bench. Paul Reed recorded 17 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks.

The Sixers were missing Joel Embiid (left knee meniscus procedure), Tyrese Maxey (concussion), De’Anthony Melton (lumbar spine bone stress), Kyle Lowry (rest) and Robert Covington (left knee bone bruise).

Head coach Nick Nurse spoke to reporters, via Adam Aaronson of PhillyVoice, before the game, giving updates on both Covington and Melton. Covington “is progressing in his rehabilitation program” and will be re-evaluated in one week. Melton, who missed 24 of the last 29 games, is beginning “an offloading period” and will be re-evaluated in two weeks.

The Grizzlies are the one team in the NBA that is more banged up than the Sixers. Ja Morant (right shoulder labral repair), Desmond Bane (left ankle sprain), Brandon Clarke (left Achilles tendon repair), Marcus Smart (right ring finger central slip tear), Ziaire Williams (right hip flexor strain), Yuta Watanabe (right wrist sprain), Derrick Rose (right groin/low back injury recovery) and Scotty Pippen Jr. (lumbar disc bulge) were all out of the lineup.

Jaren Jackson Jr. led the Grizzlies with 30 points, 11 rebounds and six blocks. Jake LaRavia added 19 points, 13 rebounds and three blocks off the bench.

The Sixers’ next contest is against the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday. Here are some instant observations from the loss to the Grizzlies:

– Reed was back in the starting lineup after coming off the bench for the last three games. While he is best served in a bench role, Mo Bamba starting at center is an untenable proposition. Reed continued his recent stretch of strong play, playing with an infectious energy level against the Grizzlies. He was flying all over the floor in the first half, crashing the glass hard and playing solid interior defense. There was a play late in the first half where Reed dove onto the floor, came away with the offensive rebound and later finished the possession with a crafty reverse layup.

The play perfectly encapsulated Reed’s chaotic style of play. He had a ton of success against the Grizzlies, with his hustle and grit at times being the lone thing keeping the Sixers afloat. However, he ended up fouling out late in the fourth quarter, ending an otherwise strong showing in disappointing fashion.

Jeff Dowtin Jr., recently signed to a two-way contract, had to step into a larger role against the Grizzlies due to Maxey and Lowry being out of the lineup. He had a quiet Sixers debut against the Brooklyn Nets, but he followed that up with a big performance against Memphis off the bench. Dowtin made an impact on both ends of the floor. He played with active hands, forcing multiple Memphis turnovers.

The 26-year old made a versatile impact offensively, taking advantage of the open looks the Grizzlies were giving him while also efficiently running the offense. He is not likely to play when the team is fully healthy, but his performance against Memphis was impressive nonetheless. Dowtin finished the game with 10 points, three rebounds, six assists and three steals in 24 minutes off the bench.

– With the Sixers being heavily shorthanded, this was a game set up for Oubre to have a big night. He led the team in points, and his scoring punch was necessary to keep the Sixers in the game. Most of his damage against Memphis came on drives to the basket, a recurring theme from his strong last couple games. His finishing around the rim was poor against the Grizzlies, but he made up for it through volume and an ability to get to the free-throw line. While he shot just 7-of-21 from the field, the Sixers had no other perimeter scoring options to turn to.

– This game was tailor made for a strong Tobias Harris performance. The Sixers were shorthanded and facing a poor Grizzlies team. However, Harris disappeared and failed to produce in any facet of the game. He scored just eight points on 3-of-12 shooting. The lack of success as a scorer is one thing. His lack of aggression and poor decision making are inexcusable and grating to watch at this point. There were countless possessions that went into the garbage can after Harris stepped out of taking an open jumper to instead dribble into multiple defenders. He seemed to recover his rhythm over the last week with big games against the Charlotte Hornets and Dallas Mavericks. However, he still has far too many games like the one he did against Memphis.

– The Sixers came into this game heavily shorthanded, but it still does not excuse their epic fourth quarter collapse against the Grizzlies. For the second consecutive game, they were in prime position to secure a win before falling short late. Memphis, missing more players than the Sixers were, managed to outscore the Sixers 34-16 in the fourth quarter. Oubre ran out of gas in the final frame after putting the offense on his back earlier in the game. Harris never showed up for the entirety of the contest. Buddy Hield shot 3-of-10 on shots inside the arc and generally struggles to create his own offense. The overall result was some ugly offense and a fourth-quarter collapse for the Sixers.

– The Sixers have had some recent success using KJ Martin as a small-ball center off the bench. They continued using him in that role against the Grizzlies. Martin made an immediate impact off the bench, recording a put-back dunk and a 3-pointer on consecutive possessions. Unfortunately, Martin’s night only went downhill from there. The Grizzlies made a consistent effort to drive at him on the other end of the floor. There were a few possessions where Jackson outmuscled Martin on drives to the basket. Martin was limited to just 19 minutes before eventually fouling out.

Ricky Council IV’s play this season has largely been positive. He was warranting strong consideration for a consistent rotation spot. However, he has cooled down some over his last couple games. Part of that might be due to the inconsistent playing time. The bigger issue is his lack of a jumper. He scored just one point against the Grizzlies while missing all three of his shots and shooting 1-of-4 from the free-throw line. Council still typically brings enough other things to the floor to overcome his lack of a jumper.

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