MEMPHIS - While the big story surrounding the Sixers is the off-the-court happenings of Jahlil Okafor, there is still a game to be played and an attempt to snap what has become the longest professional losing streak in American professional sports history, which reached 27 games on Friday in Houston. A loss tonight would also set an NBA record for 18 consecutive to begin the season.
The Sixers' offense scored 114 points against the Rockets, a season-high, and set a franchise record with 16 three-pointers. But the defense was less than stellar, allowing the Rockets to shoot 52 percent from the floor in the 116-114 loss.
The Sixers will face a much stiffer defense tonight in the Grizzlies, who have allowed just 91.3 points over the past four games and have help opponents under 100 in four of the last five games. Two injuries to keep an eye on are those of Nerlens Noel and Zach Randolph. Randolph has been sidelined for the past five games with a sore knee, while Noel missed Friday's game with the same problem.
Here's three things to look at for tonight's game:
1. The play of Jahlil Okafor. There is so much surrounding the 19-year-old with his off-the-court problems. Add to that the Sixers offense was spectacular for most of the fourth quarter in Friday's loss to the Rockets with Okafor on the bench. Okafor said all the right things after the game, but you have to wonder how everything is playing on his mind.
2. The play of Robert Covington. Over the past four games the Sixers' swingman has averaged 19.5 points and has made 14-of-32 (43.8 percent) from three-point range. When he is on, it should open things up for Jahlil Okafor inside and allow the Sixers to spread the floor a little bit better, something they have been completely awful at all season
3. The point guard play. Brett Brown decided to go with Isaiah Canaan as his starter in Houston, and the 6-footer responded with 23 points. That came against a defensively challenged club in the Rockets. Tonight will be much different against a defensive-minded team like the Grizzlies. T.J. McConnell played extremely well in his 25 minutes off the bench with six points - four huge ones down the stretch - and six assists to go with only one turnover.