With Joel Embiid out due to right knee pain, the 76ers needed Ben Simmons and Tobias Harris to step up.
Other than a late flurry from Harris, both struggled in the Sixers 106-104 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies at FedEx Forum.
Of course it was more than these two that contributed to the loss, especially on a night the Sixers committed 23 turnovers, leading to 17 Memphis points.
Harris and Simmons were on top of the turnover chain. Simmons committed seven turnovers and Harris had five.
“I don’t worry about (who) played well, like as far as shooting or something like that, that is human, you can’t just think tonight I am going to be great,” coach Doc Rivers said asked about the performance of Simmons and Harris. “I didn’t like how we played, it is not who played. I thought we were a sloppy basketball team. And when you play that way, you deserve to lose the game.”
No argument there, but the Sixers could have used both Simmons and Harris to step up.
Simmons had 11 points, 16 rebounds and nine assists, and if he earned one more assist it would have been a hollow triple-double.
Harris, who struggled for much of the game, ended with 21 points, on 7 for 17 shooting. He came on in the fourth quarter, but only played the final 3 minutes and 54 seconds. Harris made all three of fourth quarter field goal attempts, but with the Sixers down 105-104, he stepped out of bounds under the basket on a drive with 5.9 seconds left.
“Too many turnover late in the game, I take issue with that,” Harris said. “I got to be able to get our team a basket in crunch time,”
He wasn’t sure he stepped out of bounds on that final turnover.
“I saw the replay and it was real close,” he said. “Yeah, probably should have gone to a counter move and got a shot off.”
Harris said games like this are leaning experiences.
“At the end of the day you got to grow from it and progress and be ready for tomorrow...”
Harris was alluding to Sunday’s game in Oklahoma City against the Thunder.
Simmons was obviously frustrated by the turnovers.
“Too many (turnovers),” Simmons said about his performance and the entire team’s.
Simmons has played three games in a row after missing two with left knee soreness. On Friday he was listed as probable on the injury report with the injury.
He was asked after the game is he is impacted by the injury.
“No, I feel good, at times (when) I try to get my legs under me, it’s tough,” said Simmons, who shot 3 for 9 from the field, including 0 for 2 from three-point range. “We have a back to back tomorrow and we will see how it goes...”
The reason the Sixers could have stolen the game is the way Memphis unraveled at the end. The Grizzlies led by as many as 14 points in the fourth quarter, but thanks to Shake Milton, the Sixers made it a game. Milton scored 15 of his 28 points in the final quarter, but in the end turnovers were the difference.
The Grizzlies committed just 11 or one fewer than Simmons and Harris combined.