Even without Joel Embiid, the 76ers made it a competitive game with the Memphis Grizzlies. Depsite a late surge and a 28-18 fourth quarter advantage, it wasn’t enough in Saturday’s 106-104 loss at the FedEx Forum.
Here are three reasons why the Sixers lost.
The Sixers committed 23 turnovers, compared to 11 for Memphis. There were too many sloppy passes, and too many times the Sixers tried to force the ball into spaces that were too tight. As well as he played with 28 points, Shake Milton still committed five turnovers and he didn’t even have the team lead. Ben Simmons committed seven and Tobias Harris added five.
Containing Ja Morant
Last season’s NBA Rookie of the Year, Morant was rusty early on, since he had missed the previous eight games with a left ankle sprain.
He missed his first three field goal attempts, but then he scored early in the second quarter on this alley oop dunk on a feed from Kyle Anderson. This basket seemed to get Morant going.
The Sixers opened with Simmons guarding Morant and Matisse Thybulle also spent considerable time on him. Danny Green also spent time guarding him.
Morant had 17 points and six assists (and three turnovers) and hurt the Sixers on pick and rolls. Here he gets the assist on a lob to Brandon Clarke.
Morant shot 7 for 14, including 0 for 3 from three-point range while playing 30 minutes and 42 seconds. Sensing his perimeter game was off, Morant kept taking it to the basket. Of his seven field goals, he had a dunk, four driving layups and two floaters in the lane. He wasn’t overly rushed, playing at his own pace.
Dwight Howard at the line
Dwight Howard filled in admirably for Embiid, with eight points and 18 rebounds, including five on the offensive glass. Howard, however is a liability on the foul line. He was 2 for 8 in a game the Sixers lost by two.
The rest of the Sixers shot 21 of 24 (.875) from the foul line.
Howard missed all four fourth quarter free throw attempts. He played 9:01 in the fourth quarter. Even with Embiid out, the Sixers may want to revisit having him in the game in crunch time due to his difficulties at the foul line.