MEMPHIS - Before his team faced the powerful Memphis Grizzlies to begin its longest road trip of the season, 76ers coach Doug Collins had a hunch that Dorell Wright was the right guy to inject into the starting lineup in place of the injured Jason Richardson.

After Wright went for a season-high 28 points against one of the better defensive teams in the league to lead the Sixers to a 99-89 victory at FedEx Forum, it was clear Collins had made the right choice.

Wright was not the only Sixer to come up big. Spencer Hawes was energized off the bench and finished with 20 points and nine rebounds. He also matched his season high with five blocks as the Sixers improved to 14-15.

Zach Randolph led the Grizzlies (18-9) with 23 points and nine rebounds.

The win ended the Sixers' road losing streak at six games. It is their first road win in December, and it is their first victory away from the Wells Fargo Center since they defeated the Charlotte Hornets on Nov. 30.

The Grizzlies went into the game having established themselves as one of the powers of the Western Conference, just one game behind San Antonio in the Southwest Division. They are ranked second in the league in points allowed, and they have been almost unbeatable here. Before Wednesday's game, the Grizzlies had won 23 of their last 25 home games.

They were, however, coming off their worst loss of the season, a 121-96 drubbing at Houston on Saturday. That game also saw the Grizzlies allow the Rockets to shoot almost 54 percent from the field.

Shortly after their 8 p.m. practice on Christmas Day here, the Sixers reported that Richardson would miss the game with a lower-back injury. Collins announced Wright as the starter at the team's shootaround Wednesday morning.

The Grizzlies were also down a starter as well. Starting small forward Rudy Gay, their leading scorer at 18.2 points per game, was not available. Gay, in fact, wasn't even in the building, and there was speculation that he had been stranded in the Washington, D.C., area, perhaps because of the weather.

Wright has been playing well lately, and that good play continued into the first half. He paced the Sixers with 13 points as they took a 49-47 lead at intermission.

After attempting just four free throws in the first half of their 95-92 loss in Brooklyn on Sunday, the Sixers put up 16 before the break in Memphis.

A homecoming

Memphis is home to Thaddeus Young. So the Sixer went straight to Memphis from Brooklyn to spend as much time as possible with his family, including his mother, Lula Hall.

Young related before the game how his mother didn't want to quit her job at a local warehousing and storage company where she had worked for years.

Young said he had to make Hall, who was one of many family members and friends at the game, retire.

"When I got drafted she kept on working and didn't tell me," said Young, who last December signed a five-year, $42 million extension with the Sixers. "My sister told me a few months in that Mom was still working. . . .

"She wasn't trying to live off of her son's dreams or riches or anything like that. That lets you know that you have a great mom who is willing to do anything."

Contact John N. Mitchell at jmitchell@philly.com, or follow on Twitter @JmitchInquirer.